Thursday, December 27, 2018

Two Weeks Notice (2002)

Watched ‘Two Weeks Notice’ (2002) on Netflix. (a movie in which Donald Trump has played the role of Trump! In some children's league party!)

I liked the story. Or rather, the paradigm of it. Ambitious builders razing down old buildings, even those that deserve to be preserved owing to their historical or cultural or architectural or social significance. And activists trying to save them.

Lucy (Sandra Bullock), is a lawyer who specializes in historic preservation and environmental law. A few lines of her passionate speech do the character sketching. Economic.
“When I think about how architecture can shape a community and turn strangers in to neighbours, how the right design for a park makes people feel secure, how a school building can be functional and beautiful so kids feel engaged instead of imprisoned.”

She meets the rich and spoilt George Wade (Hugh Grant) while protesting against his firm to protect Coney Island community center from his bulldozers, at a time when he was wanting to hire a lawyer.
He hires the reluctant Lucy. In course of time, he comes to depend on her advice not just on legal matters but also his personal choices.

The viewer is expected to believe that George (Hugh Grant) is a casanova, but he isn’t depicted to be one,.. he is shown indulging in some harmless flirtation but that's it.
Only after watching this movie I came to know of strip chess, because George and a woman are shown playing it. Even in that scene, Hugh Grant hardly looks casanova. More like a joker.

The traits and habits of Sandra bullock, intended to depict her as not dainty and ladylike, are agreeable - overeating, snoring, and other things.. but the scene of her struggling with pressure ‘to go', to do the big job, while in traffic, following some major overeating, and Hugh grant's carrying her to a motel having a toilet, was unnecessary, pointless, and characteristic of America's morbid fascination for the gross.

The story is set in Manhattan. I haven't done a chopper ride in new York, but this movie provides the experience.
As Lucy (Sandra bullock) remarks in the movie, God it is such a beautiful city!
The sky ride over new York skyline with ample views of the Chrysler, Empire state and wall Street skyscrapers was a real treat.
I had to note this down.. commentary between the two, while on their chopper, flying over Manhattan skies.
“My favorite building of all time (Chrysler Building)
Look, Nirosta steel, sunburst tower, gleaming gargoyles, all designed by a man called William van Alen, obsessed with beating his former partner, who was building the bank of Manhattan tower, at 927 feet, so van Alen announced the Chrysler building at 925 feet, and then surreptitiously assembled the 180 foot mast inside the tower and revealed it after the bank tower had been completed, thereby giving van Alen the tallest building in the world until of course the Empire state building.”

This song serves the movie well.

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone?

Hey farmer, farmer put away the DDT
I don't care about spots on my apples
Leave me the birds and the bees
Don't it always seem to go...

Lines I noted..

“You need someone who can write a brief instead of removing yours”

“Keep your friends close and your enemies Closer..”

“You are the most selfish human being on the planet”
“That's silly, have you met everyone on the planet?”

“I think it's immoral that any human being should acquire that much wealth. I don't know how you sleep at night”
“I have a machine that simulates the sound of the ocean”

‘I have never seen you cry. Except when Bush won.’
‘Which Bush?’
‘Both of them, so may be you cried twice’

“Philosopher yogananda says, ‘only that which is the other gives us fully unto ourselves’ !”

“You are a cause! You make Gandhi look like a used car salesman.”

Learnt that ‘Groundbreaking’is the plain Jane version of our Bhoomi Pooja

Hugh grant's has a pathetic mouth but his British accent is so good to the ears.
And how did Sandra bullock become a star with a face and a button nose like that???

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2005)

Watched the movie ‘The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio’ (2005) on Netflix.

It is based upon the memoir, ‘The prize winner of Defiance, Ohio : How my mother raised 10 kids on 25 words or less’, by Terry Ryan, one of Evelyn’s children.

If this movie weren’t based on true story, it would have been exasperatingly incredible and unrealistic.
Housewife Evelyn Ryan, helped support her husband, Kelly, and their 10 children by winning jingle-writing contests. Kelly failed to support his family in part due to apparent alcoholism. He had dreamed of becoming a singer but lost his singing voice in a car accident, and was often cruel and abusive. Though not mean.

Evelyn watches these contests on television and posts her couplets, little songs, one liners, etc., composed according to the requirement of the product and the contest, to a given address.

She wins a freezer, ice buckets, a washer, a trip to New York City, sleds, boots, a pony, a palm tree, a sports car!!!, a shopping spree in her local grocery store, ice crushers, a camera, dance shoes, a case of dog food, and so on…

Like I said, if it weren’t based on true story, it would have been impossible to watch her winning so many prizes, one after another, winning a household item or money just when she needed it the most, like when she had to pay the bills, or pay the mortgage of her home, or rent a new home and so on. It would have seemed like dumb predictable boring luck.
The actual jingles composed by her, presented in the movie, help the viewer appreciate the fact that it wasn’t just luck but her talent that won her prizes but then, the her winning so many of them when there were thousands of contestants, would have made it seem incredible, if it weren’t based on true story.

Not only is Evelyn shown to have been a talented woman but very wise.
When Kelly the husband turns violent, especially after alcohol in the evening, and gets abusive and damages property she has won, Evelyn just continues doing her chores or TV watching or talking to kids, calmly, just a few feet away, as if nothing has happened, allowing him to calm down all by himself, in his own time, and at times, even talks teasingly, persuasively and amusingly, managing to turn his sneer into a smile.

A patient, mature woman, she finds a way to reconcile every unfortunate incident with a meaningful purpose or outcome.
The milkman, for instance, arrives when the baby has soiled his little sister’s hands who was untrained in nappy changing and both kids need cleaning. The milkman cant wait long as he has a schedule to follow. When she finally reaches the door, she doesn’t have money to pay him though she definitely needs the milk for her children.
Just then, the mailman arrives and delivers some prize money which she uses for paying the milkman.
Evelyn then explains to her daughter, who is feeling guilty, that it was just as well that the baby soiled her hands, for, had she not been delayed, she would have reached the door on time, before the mailman was there with the money.

In an accident caused by the roughness of her husband, she collapses down spilling ten bottles of milk, with the broken glass bleeding her hands and half a gallon a milk soaking a garment on her hip. But the next day, she composes this jingle out of the episode.

Spilled milk?, don't cry, unless of course, it's hip high
I don't cry over milk, spilled or otherwise
I just wish I had spilled a smaller other size
Spilled milk can't be poured
If it's spreading across the floor
But no need for tears or sorrow
There is always more to spill tomorrow

Julianne Moore fits the role so perfectly.

However, the shopping spree, that Evelyn won as prize in a contest, looks cheap. The only time, that she falls from grace, in my eyes.
She has made a meticulous list of things she will need; she has eleven minutes to fill her cart with as much as can, the assistants at the store are ready, and she is shown running down the aisles, as if for life, pushing the cart before her, plunging things into it from the shelves and then bringing a cartload back home.
Even today, the scramble for freebies and discounts in America is disgraceful. During thanksgiving, Americans standing and sleeping in queues night long, is a definite fall from dignity and grace. And greed of vulgar proportions.

Anyway, there is dignity when she arrives home and no scrambling at the dining table that is loaded with all the goodies from the shopping; she tries to persuade her kids, saying “US army research has shown a relationship between intelligence and the willingness to eat unfamiliar foods”

As seen in some frames, she has very freckled skin, on her arms and I don’t know why the make up artist made no effort to cover it. Was it part of the role she was playing? Or something else?

The children too influenced by her, compose their own lines now and then.
Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream…
Thrown your dad overboard
And listen to him scream…

The story is set in 1956. A period in which...

…Evelyn is shown watching a beauty contest on television.
MC: “This is a presidential election year. If a qualified woman were running for president, how would you feel about voting for her and why?”
Participant: “If the men candidates running were qualified, I feel I would vote against her, my reasons being, women are very high strung and emotional people. They aren't knowledgeable…”

…After the drunken violence of the husband, the father from the parish visits Evelyn and advises her to ‘try harder to make him a better home’.

…Evelyn has ten kids!

…Milkman would deliver milk to homes in bottles everyday. Not everyone had fridge, so milk had to be delivered daily.

…Women plead with milkmen for credit, assuring him he will be paid back, which Evelyn does routinely.

…Telephone calls were answered like this.
“Is this Mrs Ryan?”
“Yes, this is She”

Evelyn and her husband address each other as Mom and Dad.

Here are some more from her genius. Even her diary entries were poetic, out of beauty of sheer habit.

In Dallas, Texas,
It was the first time that I ate
A meal I didn't have to cook,
On a plate that I didn't have to wash.
Or soaked in a tub
That I didn't have to scrub
Or slept in a bed that I didn't have to make

Every time I pass the church,
I stop and make a visit.
So when I am carried in feet first
God won't say, who is it

Interesting trivia from the movie.
"Queen Elizabeth, they say, invented ladies stockings"


Friday, December 14, 2018

Clueless (1995)

Watched the movie 'Clueless' (1995) on Netflix.

This is a charming movie that I could watch again.

It’s about Cher, a sixteen year old college girl in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, born to a rich dad and adorably full of herself, full of ideas about how others should live their lives, and about how she tries to help other people, mostly classmates, live their lives the way she thinks they should live, only to be surprised when things don’t pan out according to her plan.

Josh (Paul Rudd), Cher’s step brother, who is in love with her, is very endearing. All the while she ignores him and even tries to avoid him, he watches her with mature patience and understanding, just being there for her whenever she is in need. After being done with her futile chasing and wandering, Cher realizes that Josh is the one she is in love with. His love is requited at the end of the movie in a satisfactory climax (I mean the climax of the movie).

I realized that Aisha, the Hindi film, where Sonam Kapoor played Aisha, was ‘inspired’ by this movie. Suffice it to say, I wouldn’t watch it twice. Though it was one of the better Bollywood films.

Only Alicia Silverstone, with her angelic face could have fitted in the role. Anybody else would have evoked feelings other than adoration. I think.

It is loosely based on Jane Austen's 1815 novel Emma (I havent read it yet), updating the setting to modern-day Beverly Hills. The film's director, Heckerling studied real Beverly Hills high school students to get the lingo and feel for how real teens in the 1990s talked. The quote "as if!" came from Heckerling's study of these teens. I didn’t know it was a quote, and also that it came from Beverly Hills.

Cher plots to get her school teachers, Mr. Hall and Miss Geist, interested in each other, since they are both single and hence perhaps give the students a tough time and their falling in love should soften them. Their actually falling for Cher's tricks is very Bollywood like.

I was taken by surprise by the scene of father and stepbrother Josh rebuking Cher for a dress she is wearing while just about to head out to a party, ‘that looks like underwear, wear something on top of that’.
I didn't know that in America, there were any rules about ‘proper dressing’ other than those dictated by fashion. I thought ‘modesty’ was non existent in America, in the modern times at least.

This is epic! Cher, when asked for money by this guy, takes it from her blouse and gives it to him! I thought that was a typical Indian lower middle class Behenji thing.

A sixteen year old mocks at another sixteen year old for being virgin and for failing in driving test. ‘Why I am taking advice from a virgin who cannot drive’
This kind of peer pressure, characteristic of the western society, is both pitiable and dark.

‘I am only 16. This is California, not Kentucky.’ (marriages don’t happen at such an early age, unless you are in the bible belt?)

I love this dad. I wish I had one like that. Look how proud he is of his daughter. And how supportive.
‘Dad I like this boy and he likes someone else’
‘How could that be??!!’
‘I don't know but I feel wretched’
‘This boy is a complete moron, you are the most beautiful girl in Beverly hills; I don't want you with a stupid fellow like that’
‘He is a do-gooder types,… my after school commitments are not good enough’
‘Who said that? Who takes care of the little things at home? Who makes sure daddy eats right?’
‘Yes(smiling), now get back to work’

Interesting lines that I noted, below.

‘Daddy is a litigator. He gets 500 dollars per hour for fighting with people. But he fights with me for free because I am his daughter.’

“Street slang is an increasingly valid form of expression. Most feminine pronouns do have mocking but not necessarily misogynistic undertone”

‘I want to do something good for humanity.’
‘How about sterilization?’

‘He said you gave him a toothache.’
‘How did I?’
‘You are so sweet.’

‘Play suck any blow’

‘Is she pretty?
‘No, she is a Monet
‘What's a Monet?
‘It's a painting. From far away, it's okay, but up close, it's a big mess
I didn’t know this was the perception about Monet among people.

‘Do you see any positive changes in her?’
‘Under your tutelage, she is exploring the challenging world of bare midriffs’

‘I can't believe I am taking advice from someone who watches cartoons’

‘I needed a complete makeover. Except this time, I'd make over my soul’

I learnt some cool new phrases and colloquial.
Are you being ‘Couch commando’? so saying, Cher takes the remote away from her step brother sittting next to her.
Are you suffering from ‘Buyer's remorse’? asks Cher’s friend in the mall, seeing her sullen face
There is a serious ‘babe draught’ in the place where he lives
Looking at this shoddily dressed new girl in college, they remark ‘Fashion victim or ensembly challenged?’
‘Hymenally challenged’, perhaps, says this girl of a classmate who is still a virgin at sixteen.
‘I was riding the crimson wave, I had to haul ass to the ladies (room)’ says a girl referring to her monthly period
‘Post adolescent idealistic phase’says Cher sarcastically of Josh, her step brother who watches her cluelessness with understanding and patience, trying to correct her now and then.
‘Hey, granola breath’ says someone addressing a classmate whose breath smells always of granola
‘You are a snob and a half’
‘He is a cake boy. Gay’ says Dionne’s boyfriend of this cute guy in class Cher is interested in.
‘To go postal’ is to go crazy
Ralph - vomit; I feel like ralphing
‘Icky’ means repulsive, distasteful
Montage is the same as collage
‘Damsel in distress’ act
I have been going down a shame spiral
Footsie - play footsie with someone
Ditz - you think I am just a ditz with a credit card?

New words.
Infomercials - a long commercial that informs or instructs, especially in an original and entertaining manner
Brown nose - to curry favor; behave obsequiously
Space cadet - a person who appears to be in his or her own world or out of touch with reality
Joint custody (of children of divorce)

I liked the words of this song.
If I could see into your heart
Then I would know just where to start
Cause I am lost, and I need to be found
Crazy as it sounds, I need you around
If I could stand, to be on my own
Then I would probably, Just leave you alone
But I am going to feel this way
Till I am 6 feet underground
I need
Tossing and turning
My love is burning me down
If I could change one thing in this world
I'd change your mind and make you my girl
Because I am lost I need to be found