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XALA by Ousmane Sembene

In Movies on February 21, 2012 by Sukrit Tagged: , ,

Any Price !

I want to be a Man again

says El Hadji, the protagonist, polygamist, corrupt businessman who forms the central character of Xala, a film by Ousmane Sembene. Xala is a vivid portrayal of the contradiction of Senegalese life post independence from their French colionolists. As the drums die out, the celebration of freedom and independence is replaced by a muted resignation; for nothing has changed. The white man ruled the black man before the independence, now it is the turn of the higher black man to rule the lower black man with the white man’s money. The opening sequence of the film brilliantly captures this- As the traditional costumes are replaced by sharp business suits and by empty speeches of socialism, the white man comes with money in hand to buy out the black ‘buisnessmen’.

El Hadji, a corrupt businessmen uses bribed money to buy himself a third wife. With the purchase follows the big night after the wedding. And, what do you think happend ? Impotence or Xala struck. The movie is at once a critique of polygamy, of the influence of european culture on the traditional but most of all it is a critique of the black man’s dream to become white. This dream is not limited to Senegal or Africa. Instances of it can be seen across the colonized world- in India with the adoption of westernized beliefs, in Pakistan, in Trinidad, in Latin America… It seems as if the colonized suffer from an all pervading Stockholm syndrome. As the urban or rich section of the population transform into “Europeans” the country expectedly goes through a cultural crisis. It is the crisis of a country without a past and without a history to claim as its own. What follows is an inevitable rift between the newly westernized and the nationalists, not unlike fundamentalism in Middle East. Ousmane shows us delicate glimpses of this in the confrontations between the French speaking El Hadji and his nationalist daughter Rama.

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Articles

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

In Books,Movies on October 20, 2010 by Sukrit Tagged: , , ,

He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man

Well, that just about sums it up, sums it all up- the american hippy/pop movement, the drugs, the dope and Tim Leary’s feeble attempt to lead American counterculture into psychedelic drugs. The movie is awesome by the way. If you like me keep an interest for psychedelic music like Jefferson Airplane or rather for Grace Slick, you would totally love this movie. Or ofcourse you are already hooked on to LSD, you would have watched this anyway.

The movie is the journey of an eccentric and looney reporter Raoul Duke with his attorney Dr. Gonzo to discover the “American Dream”. What follows are a lot of drugs, lots of crazy and mind-numbing stuff with some great music. The effects of various hallucinogenic drugs on the human body are duly observed along with the psychedelic effect on the mind. The movie is a journey into the American counter-culture of the 1960s. Counter-culture represented the free American dream, with the use of mind-expansion drugs like LSD to reach a so-called higher level of spiritual development. What started from San Fransisco spread throughout the USA, the chief proponent of the movement being Tim Leary. The movie is the journey of two men to find and be a part of this wave, this wave of freedom and ecstasy where one can lose himself in pure pleasure and forget the troubles of the real world.

One of my favorite excerpts from the movie :

“Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run …but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant … History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened. My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket …booming through theTreasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) … but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that …

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda …. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning …. And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave ….

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark —that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

The movie portrays the helplessness of a crippled generation, promised the land of fullness and purity but finding only the barren desert. A generation crippled with the beliefs of a non-existent movement, a movement over before its time, leaving helpless cripples in its wake. A generation of people rudely woken up to the harsh realities of life from a deep and sound dream. The protagonist and his attorney dont wish to be a part of the American dream, they wish to be lost in it.

The movie is brilliant and i am dying to read the book. Johnny Depp is awesome, his style of smoking and his half nerdy Jack sparrowish way of typing is brilliant. Something must be said about Dr. Gonzo ofcourse. “A man too crazy to live but too rare too die”. The guy has inspired a whole new breed of free and subjective journalism, Gonzo Journalism. With his wild halo of hair and crazy antics he is the perfect poster boy for the movie. He is the dude man. To end i’ll quote my fav passage of the movie-

“We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled that 60’s. That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary’s trip. He crashed around America selling “consciousness expansion” without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously… All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped create… a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody… or at least some force – is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Sukrit

PS: I just wish i was part of the 60s wave. What i woudnt give for it.

Articles

In the Name of the Father

In Movies on March 29, 2010 by Vikas Tagged: , , , , ,

In the Name of the Father (1993)

Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite, Emma Thompson, John Lynch, Corin Redgrave
Director: Jim Sheridan

Sometimes it’s only through the greatest of tragedies and the gravest of injustices that human beings learn to relate to each other honestly and openly. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Jim Sheridan’s searing In the Name of the Father, where father and son come to an intimate understanding of each other through shared sufferings.

It is of Gerry Conlon, played by Mr. Day-Lewis, imprisoned unjustly for 15 years after horrendous I.R.A. bombings of innocent people on the British mainland in the mid-70’s sent the crown government into a McCarthyite frenzy.

When, after sentencing has been carried out, the police find incontrovertible evidence of the Conlons’ innocence, they keep it carefully buried — until Gareth Peirce (Emma Thompson) ferrets out the truth while attempting to get Gerry and Giuseppe’s convictions overturned.

It is the story as well of Gerry’s father, Guiseppe, played by Pete Postlethwaite, picked up as an innocent accessory and convicted in a separate bomb-conspiracy case that, like his son’s, fell apart much later.The father, a simple religious man virulently critical of the I.R.A., died after five years in prison, before the case was thrown out in a special London inquiry.

In the Name of the Father is about victims — those who do and don’t fight back, and the different forms that those battles take. For the IRA, human life is cheap, and all targets are legitimate. For the police, it doesn’t matter who’s convicted, as long as the perception is that they’re doing their jobs. And for the “Guildford Four”, and those accused of aiding them, justice is unlikely and nebulous.

In the Name of the Father is a visual treat. There are no grand vistas for the cameras to pan over, but two scenes among many illustrate the level of photographic quality. The first is the stark and chaotic presentation of the Belfast riot. The camera puts the viewer into the streets in the midst of all the confusion and strife, creating a sense of immediacy that many action pictures fall short of. The second occurs much later in the movie, and is more serene and poignant image, as the windows of Gerry’s prison cry “fire tears” to match his own manifestations of grief.

For a movie that is so politically-charged, In the Name of the Father manages to sharpen its focus on the individuals rather than the bigger historical tapestry into which their lives are woven. It’s impossible to lose sight of the police cover-up, or the IRA’s casual views on killing, but the brilliance of Jim Sheridan’s motion picture is that we come to view every event from the perspective of how it impacts on the relationship between Gerry and his father, in whose name the final struggle is fought.

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