Under the sun

Monday, January 23, 2006


There are some people who are, what i would describe as "around-shoulder-lookers". Well, to be honest, everyone is, but the magnitude of "around-shoulder-looking" varies between people and the for the aforementioned, this magnitude is on the higher side.

around-shoulder-looker: A person who often doesn't have or express his/her opinion on matters. He/She always looks around his/her shoulder to see what the majority [or in some cases, the people who matter] says. In other words, he/she says what the others say.

Having seen people sing praises for City Of God and finally getting my hands on the DVD, my expectations were rather high before watching the flick. Maybe my expectation was the reason i was disappointed after watching the movie. This is from the Tarantino school of movie-making, which has its own set of fans. I've seen this around-shoulder-looker phenomenon in its height in cases like Kill Bill, The Da Vinci Code [sole reason why i haven't read it] and so on. City Of God also falls under the same category.

After the disappointment, i was in for a pleasant surprise when i watched the French film L'ennui with little or no expectations other than the basic assumption that the French love bizarre and abstract themes and characterizations.
L'ennui is about a philosophy professor who is unable to progress on his project of writing a book. He comes across a model Cecilia, who, in bizarre circumstances has been making love to an old painter when he dies right in the middle of the act. He wants to know the most intimate details of her relationship with the painter. Cecilia comes across at first as a plump, dumb 17 year-old model. She always answers in monosyllables or a few words at the most. She doesn't show power, character or emotion. In fact, she doesn't express anything at all. They get into a relationship - built purely around sex and with absolutely no commitments. He finds Cecilia absolutely plain, uninspiring and lifeless and wants to end the relaionship by giving a parting gift, as suggested by his ex-wife. Cecilia doesn't turn up at his apartment that day. This is the focal point of the movie. We see him taking a 180 degree turn [actually its a surprise for Him, let alone the audience] and realizing that he is now so dependent on her that he lives and breathes Cecilia. To make things worse, she has another lover, whom she dates behind his back. Jealousy, possessiveness, sexuality and human nature are explored and depicted in a stunningly realistic manner, and in stark detail. In fact, its got some of the most realistic and spontaneous scenes and dialogues i've ever seen in a movie [in Thamizh, kAdhal comes to mind]. He wants to possess her and make her his, but she is so detached, devoid of emotions, bound only by sex. In fact, i can recall only one instance in the movie where she speaks to him without him asking a question first. She makes it very clear that she will not leaver her lover and she wants them both. As a last resort, he offers her money and the token of marriage, but she's ina league of her own. He goes to the brink of insanity in the end but survives.
On the face of it, there's not much in terms of theme or "story" per se, but the strength of this movie lies in its realistic portrayal of human nature. I would choose realism and exploration of human nature any day over stylized narration, quick-cuts or hand-held camera work.


  • Herd mentality is indeed disgusting. I feel that it springs from an instinctive reaction to tread the "safe" path. I became a victim, when I read "The Da Vinci Code". I suggest that you uphold your decision. Don't go within 2 miles of it or you'll throw up violently. I liked "Kill Bill" though...
    P.S: Now that I agree with you, does it make me an "around-the-shoulder-looker"? ;)

    By Blogger Viji, at Wed Jan 25, 03:29:00 PM  

  • Viji,
    "Don't go within 2 miles of it or you'll throw up violently"
    mm.. that's interesting...
    Well, you didn't like DVC and so ur NOT saying what the others are saying, right? That way, you're not one..

    Anyway, like i said every one of us is an around-the-shoulder-looker... only the degree varies...

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Wed Jan 25, 05:22:00 PM  

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