Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Death to the King

Wasn't it lovely when people would sing,
Everyone would shout death to the king,
We'd all come out and march down the street,
Upon the palace gates we would then beat,
When the gate was down we went inside,
We caught him asleep he couldn't hide,
We dragged him down to the guillotine,
He kept shouting, "I am the King",
We strapped him down, everything grew quiet,
The king was scared, he couldn't hide it,
The blade slid smoothly through his neck,
His blood splashed down onto the deck,
We buried him without a casket,
But there lay his head, still in the basket.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Happy Memories

I wish I could turn back time,
Turn back to the happy moments.

But time didn't stand still,
it ran faster than I wanted it to.

All I have are memories,
Unforgettable feelings.

I wish those moments would come back soon,
Because there's nothing else that I'd rather like.

Am working on a spell right now,
To let time freeze somehow.

Hopefully with time frozen,
My life will enliven.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Review: Modern Times (1936)

Chaplin’s last 'silent' film, filled with sound effects, was made when everyone else was making talkies. Charlie turns against modern society, the machine age, (The use of sound in films ?) and progress. Firstly we see him frantically trying to keep up with a production line, tightening bolts. He is selected for an experiment with an automatic feeding machine, but various mishaps leads his boss to believe he has gone mad, and Charlie is sent to a mental hospital... When he gets out, he is mistaken for a communist while waving a red flag, sent to jail, foils a jailbreak, and is let out again. We follow Charlie through many more escapades before the film is out.

Charles Chaplin ... A factory worker (as Charlie Chaplin)
Paulette Goddard... A gamin
Henry Bergman ... Cafe proprietor
Tiny Sandford ... Big Bill (as Stanley Sandford)
Chester Conklin ... Mechanic
Hank Mann ... Burglar
Stanley Blystone... Gamin's father
Al Ernest Garcia... President of the Electro Steel Corp. (as Allan Garcia)
Richard Alexander... Cellmate (as Dick Alexander)


Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times (1936) is the final film to feature the great actor/director/writer's most easily recognizable incarnation: The Tramp. Here is a character that is so ingrained in the collective conscious of modern film audiences that many recognize him despite the fact that they have not seen a single Chaplin film. Indeed, several iconographic studies have labeled The Tramp (with his worn hat, distinctive mustache, dusty suit, cane, and trademark waddle) as the single most identifiable fictional image in history.

Still, the film that perhaps most influenced the creation and thematic realization of Modern Times was not even a silent one. The Jazz Singer, which debuted in 1927, five years before Modern Times began production, is perhaps the most important watershed film in the industry's century-old history. In the film, comic great Al Jolson stands up in front of the audience and...sings. And as Millard Mitchell said in Singin' in the Rain, the public was suddenly in a frenzy for "Talking pictures! Talking pictures!" Sadly, with the advent of synchronized sound and dialogue, the world of silent filmmaking began to slip into obscurity with audiences and studios now viewing it as obsolete and undesirable. Nevertheless, Chaplin continued his passion for the subtle craft by creating City Lights (1931), which many critics and academics consider one of the greatest films ever made, but by the time Modern Times was released, Chaplin was one of the last directors left clinging to a dying art.

Modern Times is not an entirely silent film, (there are dialogue snippets and sound effects), but if you look closely, every character with dialogue (excluding Chaplin himself) is being mocked. Even when The Tramp opens his mouth (the only time he ever did so in a film), the words are nonsensical, defying the burgeoning convention that dialogue is mandatory for substance, entertainment, and quality.

Despite the film's status as one of the greatest comedies of all-time, it is hard to ignore the political component. In his movies, Chaplin often exhibited a great mistrust for authority and progress, as often embodied through the social elite, the police, and wealthy entrepreneurs. The irony of the film's title, then, is two-fold. It connects with Chaplin's own bitter feelings regarding his moribund art form, but also refers to the plight of the working classes during the Great Depression (long working hours with little job security and meager salary, while the upper classes remain wealthy and bide their idle time) The world was changing fast, and Chaplin foresaw that many of these changes were far from beneficial.

As we watch The Tramp struggle through the modern, mechanized world, we laugh at his antics and the absurdity of their results, but we can also feel pain and pity. He is clearly a man who does not belong. Indeed, The Tramp can almost be thought of as a misfit who has passed through a membrane from some alternate reality and unwittingly fallen into our familiar world (notice that he does not have a name or identification of any kind, and as far as we know, he has no friends, family, funds, or history).

He takes on assembly lines, feeding machines, department stores, policemen and various other mass-oriented aspects of the industrialized world (all which demand and exhibit sameness and conformity), but The Tramp (and his symbolic extension, the individual) never seem to fit.

This is, consequently, why Modern Times is also one of the most poignant love stories ever put on film. The only character who is on the same level as The Tramp is a young, homeless woman who is referred to as "The Gamin" and is played by Chaplin's then-wife, Paulette Goddard. These two are brought together by the fact they have almost nothing except the will to live and continue forward, despite adversity. Both are nameless, neither has a home, and they each have no money or material possessions.

It is here that Chaplin makes his most poignant and saddening statement about modern living. The Tramp and The Gamin are the only characters who exhibit individuality and idealism, yet they are also the ones lowest on the social and economic food chain. The conclusion of the film, which most likely reflects upon Chaplin's own emotions, is tinged with sadness, but also a lingering hopefulness that resonates as loudly and clearly today as it did more than sixty years ago.

Then there is, of course, the comedy, which is the stuff of legendary status. Some of the most memorable comic images in film history are found in Modern Times. These include The Tramp's bout with an assembly line (and his resulting twitches), his unfortunate encounter with "nose-powder", the moment when he quite literally becomes a cog in the wheels of industry, and his epic struggle to bring roast duck to an angry customer.

In my opinion, however, the two standout moments are the scene in a department store involving a blindfold and some rollerskates (the most exquisite moment of comedy in the film) and the sequence where The Tramp is submitted to the mad whim of an out-of-control feeding machine (the most uproarious moment in the film).

These are just a handful of moments that make Modern Times the enduring masterpiece that it is. On a personal level, the aspect of the film that resonates strongest with me is its appeal to the idealistic misfit in all of us. In our hearts, many of us long for the simplicity and exuberance with which The Tramp and The Gamin live life (with attention to the bare essentials and an absence of need for materialism and modern trappings).

As Chaplin so skillfully shows, however, our modern times make this lifestyle a faded dream, lost among the sheep-like herds of men and women scurrying through a modern metropolis that only Fritz Lang could make seem darker and more devoid of true humanity. Still, the final image of Modern Times refuses to let the film end on an exclusively tragic note and demonstrates that the individual is still alive and may yet find his way in an ever-changing world.

* Supposedly was to be Charles Chaplin's first full sound film, but instead, sound is used in a unique way: we hear spoken voices only when they come from mechanical devices, a symbol of the film's theme of technology and dehumanization. Specifically, voices are heard from:

o The videophones used by the factory president
o The phonographic Mechanical Salesman
o The radio in the prison warden's office

* The singers in the restaurant are also heard, and some scenes include sound effects.

* The Little Tramp's last words before his final fade out after more than 22 years as a screen icon: "Smile! C'mon!" (it is easy to read Charles Chaplin's lips at the very end of the film).

* Charles Chaplin allows the Tramp to speak on camera for the first time during the restaurant scene, but insisted that what the Tramp says be universal. Therefore, the song the Tramp sings is in gibberish, but it is possible to follow the story he tells by watching his hand gestures.

* Paulette Goddard's character's name is Ellen Peterson.

* The film originally ended with Charles Chaplin's character suffering a nervous breakdown and being visited in hospital by the gamin, who has now become a nun. This ending was filmed, though apparently only still photographs from the scene exist today (they are included in the 2003 DVD release of the film). Chaplin dropped this ending and shot a different, more hopeful ending instead.

* This was one of the films which, because of its political sentiments, convinced the House Un-American Activities Committee that Charles Chaplin was a Communist, a charge he adamantly denied. He left to live in Switzerland, vowing never to return to America.

* A full dialogue script was written for the film, as Charles Chaplin had intended to make a complete talkie. According to a documentary on the DVD release, Chaplin went so far as to film a scene with full dialogue before deciding instead to make a partial talkie.

* Discounting later parodies and novelty films, this was the last major American film to make use of silent film conventions such as title cards for dialogue. The very last dialogue title card of this film (and thus, it can be said, the entire silent era) belongs to The Tramp, who says "Buck up - never say die! We'll get along."

* Co-star Paulette Goddard actually made significant story contributions.

* France's Tobis Studios sued Charles Chaplin for plagiarizing the conveyor belt sequence from René Clair's À nous la liberté (1931) but dropped the suit when Clair declared himself honored by the tribute, saying, "I have certainly borrowed enough from him."

* According to a fall 1935 issue of Variety, Charles Chaplin was expected to run behind schedule on the release of the movie as he tweaked the soundtrack. He also wanted to chop over 1,000 feet of film from his then existing cut.

* According to Paulette Goddard, Chaplin was deeply and profoundly involved in the recording of the musical score. He spent days upon days in the recording studio writing themes, and only left when Paulette begged him.

* In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #78 Greatest Movie of All Time.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Those were the days !!!

Most people look at us and don't really understand what we're about. We all smoke and swear. We drink too much coffee and drink socially. We've all have had sex and lots of it. We hook up inside the group with our friends' sisters and ex's best friend. Some of us smoke pot and others smoke rocks. Some don't do drugs and they go to church and are in the choir.

We're a lot of different people from a lot of different places brought together by one common goal: to get the hell out of P.E.S. College alive. We all know each other through a friend of a friend. We met on the smoke deck or in the cafeteria. Some of us went to high school together and others we picked up in class. We've got preps and gamers. Singers and ravers. Hip-hoppers, beat boxers and a couple of good, clean, and wholesome suburbanites.

We talk about sex and life and politics. Abortions and movies and music. We have plots to take over the world and who will be in charge of our league of elite warriors. You name it, we've discussed it. We're smarter than your average college student. We're open to new things and we try whatever we can. We're not scared of the real world. Most of us live in it. We've all had our fair share of hard times and good days.

We haven't slept, haven't eaten, haven't moved in days. We've got errands to run when we get out of school before we go to work. We study and cram before tests and take all of the same classes with all the same teachers. We help cheat from old notes and give tips to each other. That teacher is awesome. "This class is too hard, you should take the other one instead."

We all work to pay bills we shouldn't even have yet. We still live with our parents or brothers or sisters and some like me live alone away from my family. Working one or two jobs. The student loan and financial institution office knows most of us by name. We still hang out in the summer and have wild parties, chill parties, small little get togethers. hide and seek at the park in the middle of the night.

We call each other to check in. Everyone knows everyone's business. Even if you don't know that they know. News travels fast when you're sick... expect a lot of phone calls.

We have groups within groups within groups. These people talk all the time, but those four talk more together and the two out of the four are best friends. We all get along, but we all dislike some of the others. We don't like to cause problems, though, because everyone choses sides.

No one knows why. We're all so different. Some drink, some smoke. Some curse, some toke. We've got Hindus and Christians. Muslims and Parsis. Athiests and Jews. Game players, sooth sayers, and some watch the news. We have politicians, sex fiends and drug addicts. We're all coffee drinkers and aspirin dependants.

Opposites attract and we're birds of a feather. We don't even know how we all jam together. Some of us came and some went. Some stayed and just can't get the hell out. English, Business and Science majors.

I don't know about you guys, but I'm glad and proud to be able to say that I know you people and that I can call you my friends.

I really miss those days spent attending college in Bangalore even though I hardly ever attended theory classes after the first 2 months. I love the fact that sent a fake letter to my principal making it appear as if my father sent it saying that "In order to continue his studies, he needs to work to support himself and therefore unless you kindly allow him to skip the theory classes, he wouldn't be able to get his degree." The effect that letter had was that I could only attend the practical labs and while away my time during the theory classes.

It really was fun. Looking back, I had one hell of a time in College. I wish I could relive those days again !!!

Sheltering Wings

The lonely, rippling tides,
Creating wake through one's integrity.
Arose the lonely demon from which resides,
In his unaccompanied, blackened soul.

He glides over the earthen terrain as if he were aloft,
In the meadows admist the eternal blue skies.
But by embedding oneself under the sheltering wings of the Protector,
One will be safe.
All will be safe.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Is Being Attractive The Main Deciding Factor?

Do you think being beautiful or sexy - just by itself - is a surefire way to guy's heart? How many "beautiful" or "sexy" girls do you think are really loved by their man?

The Fact: These attributes may matter for a fling but in a soulmate, a man looks for something else.

The Sexy girls are often "torpid" in bed: That very often is an open-secret among men (unless, of course, they visit one of the "Gentleman's clubs" where being sexy or beautiful alone doesn't work!). The beautiful girl expects the man to do all the work! That may go well with him at first but in a true mate he looks for a two-way exchange. And that's where good old Mary wins. She touches, she plays and the man sways! Men love that and more so when they are just looking for a perfect wife.

The beautiful girl expects royal treatment: Why not? She is cute, attractive and with choices - apparently. Good old Mary looks for a soul-to-soul connection and a deeper bonding. That's what the men really want deep inside - care, love and involvement.

Good old Mary believes in true love and the Bombshell triggers the "survival of the fittest": So is Mary a loser? Men often look at beauty as a mystery - it ceases to exist when unfolded. So the sexy girl does pretty well till the aura of beauty and her mystery remain.

Good old Mary wants to have a happy family and beautiful girl, a happy face: It's beauty that is her survival mode but men are just grown up boys. At the end of the day, they look out for nurturing love. And good old Mary is always a shoulder to cry on when things are not just right. She gets her man since she knows what he really looks for in mate.

This is what I feel and have heard time and over again from other guys who I have talked to. You all are free to give your point of view which might lead me to write another post about this.