Category: Era’s


The Mean Season (1985) is a pretty impressive thriller, which showcases the talent of actor Kurt Russell in an equally impressive measure. Directed by the quintessential 80’s film director from Canada (born in Australia), Phillip Borsos; who died too young (he was only 41, when he left this world); this Hollywood modern classic, encompasses some of the best traits of the 80’s decade. From technology, to style, the realistic feel; I felt the decade of my childhood run through my veins, with nostalgia. It’s not necessarily a masterpiece, but still an enjoyable piece of post-noir crime caper.

Set in Miami, Florida, USA, in July 1984, during Florida’s notorious “mean season”; the hurricane season that runs through the coasts of the US state of Florida, during the humid summer months (June to September); the movie is a about a reporting journalist, Malcolm Anderson (Russell) working for The Miami Journal (a fictional newspaper) and an (initially unnamed) sociopath (played by Richard Jordan). Exhausted with the never ending crime coverage he has to endure, Anderson is ready to quit and leave for cooler climes, to the more scenic US State of Colorado. A young teenage girl, Sarah Hooks (Tamara Jones), has been killed; and Anderson is given the assignment to cover it. He reluctantly agrees. Once he writes about it; he gets a call congratulating him, by the young girl’s killer. Soon a vocal relationship develops between the journalist; who’s in a dilemma (on one side he wants to genuinely help catch the killer, feeling for the families of the victims; and on the other, the scoop, nabbing the story of a lifetime is an opportunity no journalist wants to let go); and the serial killer, yet to commit more crimes.

Now the suspense begins. Kurt Russell, proves himself as an actor, in a decade Hollywood was infested with run-on-the mill blockbusters, B-grade actors, and cheesy catchphrases like “I’ll be back” (The Terminator, 1984), “I feel the need…, the need for speed” (Top Gun, 1986) and “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” (Dirty Dancing, 1987); to name a few. Soon an unbreakable bond begins, with each having a fascination bordering on homoeroticism for the other. Which in today’s terms, would be categorized as, a “Bromance”!! But this isn’t the typical bromance. For the journalist; he waits in anticipation, to hear from killer, the killer’s latest confession. Meanwhile, the attention loving murderer can’t wait to call the journalist, and letting him know about his latest victim/s. But when the reporting journalist starts to get more attention; not just because of his swell writing skills, but also ’cause he is the only person to be in touch with the killer; added to which the journalist appearing on television, with a hint of him venturing into Pulitzer Prize territory for his articles; is when the “Bromance” starts to turn sour. The killer isn’t happy. He wanted fame, through his newer killings (as we find out later that he had killed before, and confessed, and nobody believed him; thus he is duplicating the killings), and sought the help of Malcolm Anderson for it; but instead Anderson is making a name for himself; mainly just by association. True, Malcolm Anderson is great writer; but if the killer didn’t contact him, Anderson would’ve left Miami for good, and his byline could have gone into oblivion.

The killer finds the best way to get back at his “Bro”, by going after Anderson’s Achilles heal; going after his lover, a schoolteacher, Christine Connelly (Mariel Hemingway).

Kurt Russell and Richard Masur in a scene from The Mean Season (1985)

The Mean Season, is beautifully filmed. One of most beautiful, albeit pretty morbid, scene happens to be murder of an elderly couple. Though the murder itself isn’t shown, the murder’s description of it, along with Anderson’s imagination, shows how his use of a pillow, created an aesthetically spectacular scene, as the pillow feathers fall down like snowflakes. He mentions how he stood there watching this horrendous artistic creation of his.

What is more impressive, about this movie, is the realism aspect. Unlike the CGI blockbusters of today, where computer graphics overpower and ruin the entire premise of a film, instead of helping them (you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all); these films sans CGI, have an element of realism; with neither being overtly realistic nor disconnectedly artificial (though they might be out and out fictional). Of course, the film was based on a novel, In the Heat of the Summer, by a veteran Miami Herald crime reporter, John Katzenbach; who based his book on his own experiences as a newspaper reporter. Director, Phillip Borsos, spent time studying people at work at Miami Herald, he consulted them; and actually filmed on location, at the Miami Herald, with actual staff seen in the background. That’s one of the best things about the movie, the fact the press environment wasn’t recreated in a studio; but filmed in an actual press office. It was very generous of the Miami Herald to let them film there, despite being a very busy newspaper (what newspaper isn’t busy).

Crime & Journalism: Two scenes from The Mean Season (1985), with Kurt Russell (Russell is seen with Andy García, in the picture above). The movie was filmed on location, at the actual “Newsroom” of the Miami Herald newspaper.

Phillip Borsos, recalled later, that in April 1984, the day he, along with his crew, arrived at the Miami Herald; a man suspected of being a serial killer, killed himself, during a confrontation with the cops; “it seemed as though there were about 500 reporters in the office, and everybody was going insane” (quote mentioned in Wikipedia’s The Mean Season page).

Proof of the pudding, is in the preparation of an actor for a particular role, he or she, is to convincingly play. AND actor, Kurt Russell, followed around veteran American journalist and Mystery novelist, Edna Buchanan (who was working at the Miami Herald, at the time) along with Miami Herald‘s photographer of the time, Tim Chapman. And it paid off, as this no doubt is one of Russell’s better character roles. Similarly, Richard Masur, to prepare for his role as the editor of the fictional newspaper, The Miami Journal, spent several days at the Miami Herald‘s city desk.

One of the main flaws of the movie, for me, was that the revelation of the killer’s identity came too soon. It would have been better, if his face was revealed only after he pretends to help Christine Connelly, and we find out she’s been kidnapped. Post that, the revelation of the killer’s name, Alan Delour, came at the appropriate time. The thing is, when Delour, pretending to be a substitute teacher, pretends to help Connelly; we already know she’ll be kidnapped, as we know this is the killer. The other flaw, though a minor one, was the casting of Christine Connelly herself. Though Mariel Hemingway, had nothing great to do in the movie, anyway, she feels a bit out of place. In a way, it goes well with role, as Connelly wants to leave Miami, but only stays on for lover, Malcolm Anderson. Yet, Mariel Hemingway’s acting ability seems pretty limited, even for a side supporting role of small caliber. She’s an average actress; neither good nor bad. But surprisingly this average actress seemed perfectly cast in the brilliant Manhattan (1979), a Woody Allen (Black & White) masterpiece.

Mariel Hemingway in The Mean Season (1985)

Mariel Hemingway definitely looks good though. Richard Jordan is superb as the creepy voice over the telephone; but once his face is revealed, a tad too soon, it starts to go downhill a bit. Plus the done-to-death scene, when we feel all’s well that ends well, but made to realize it’s not over yet; is a tad too predictable. Still it didn’t ruin the movie for me, for most part, it really went well. It could’ve been greater, with certain changes. The one to watch out for, the icing on the cake, happens to be a fresh faced, young Cuban born, Andy García; as a good cop with a sly grin, Ray Martinez. He oozes with boyish charm in this movie.

Kurt Russell and Mariel Hemingway in The Mean Season (1985)

Though not a great movie; with it’s blend of the hurricane season (i.e. Florida’s notorious “mean season”), crime and journalism; The Mean Season, reminded me of some great suspenseful films set in Florida; the likes of Key Largo (1948), Absence of Malice (1981) and Manhunter (1986), to name a few. It also has classic-noir elements of films of the 40’s; an almost Hitchcockian feel; tied in with an investigative journalism style seen in movies like, His Girl Friday (1940), All the President’s Men (1976), Absence of Malice (mentioned above) and The Paper (1994), to name some. Even though this modern classic might not be a movie that has aged well, unlike the other movies mentioned above, it’s not exactly outdated. In fact, it’s quite a good insight into the workings of the press, press of the 1980’s decade. Plus, this would be a great guilty pleasure for die hard Kurt Russell fans. Pretty Enjoyable fare!!!

The Mean Season (1985)
My Rating: Pretty Good – 7/10 !!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

This Blog Post, is my contribution to the, THE KURT RUSSELL BLOGATHON, hosted by Gill of Real Weegie Midget and Paul of Return to the 80s!!!!!!

Thank you Gill & Paul, for letting me take part in this cool Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen

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The Annual , for Year , hit off, yesterday, with Asghar Farhadi’s Spanish psychological thriller, Todos lo Saben (2018), English Title: Everybody Knows. Below are the highlights, in pictures, of Day 1 (8th of May, 2018), of this prestigious Film Festival.

Jury member, Léa Seydoux (in Day and Evening wear), at the 71st Cannes Film Festival (8th May 2018)

Penelope Cruz & Javier Bardem arrive for the opening night premiere of their movie Todos lo Saben (2018) a.k.a. Everybody Knows; at the 71st CANNES FILM FESTIVAL

71st CANNES FILM FESTIVAL: Penelope Cruz smiles at the opening night premiere of her movie Todos lo Saben (2018) a.k.a. Everybody Knows (8th May 2018)

Golden Guest, at the 71st CANNES FILM FESTIVAL

The Jury (L to R): Lea Seydoux, Andrey Zvyagintsev, Khadja Nin, Robert Guediguian, Cate Blanchett, Denis Villeneuve, Ava DuVernay, Chang Chen & Kristen Stewart

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Today happens to be, actress n’ beauty queen, Michelle Pfeiffer’s, 60th Birthday!!! A very Happy Birthday to the Pfabulous Ms. Pfeiffer !!!!! ❤

Michelle Pfeiffer has worked with an array of interesting co-stars, from much older men to way younger men, women, teenagers and children, in her Pfabulous Pforty year career. And she’s shared a great onscreen chemistry, with practically anybody, she’s worked with. In this post, I shall be briefly discussing some of the best chemistry, she’s had with certain male co-stars, on the Big Screen.

I’ve titled this post, Catwoman Chemistry, not just ’cause she played the comic book character of ‘catwoman’, onscreen; but also as a poetic allegory to her graceful catlike gait. 👠

Mrs. Scarface & Johnny Montana

Scarface (1983), no doubt happens to be one of the best movies she’s appeared in. And what a superb performance, early on in her career. Plus, to star opposite the brilliant Pacino; in a creation written by Oliver Stone, and directed Brian De Palma; that itself would have been a great honour. They later appeared together in the romantic 90’s love story, Frankie & Johnny (1991).

Scarface, no doubt happens to be one of most violent films ever made; a brilliant masterwork, to come out in a decade, Hollywood was on a notorious decline, with cheesy B-movies (B-grade Blockbusters; which are a craze today, among tasteless youth of the 21st century; and other immature adults). Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer, are superb together, and they compliment one another to perfection.

Michelle Pfeiffer & Al Pacino in scenes from Scarface (1983)

Michelle Pfeiffer plays a cocaine addict, and had to starve herself for the role. Recently, at the 35th anniversary showing of Scarface, Pfeiffer was asked how much she weighed. Initially horrified, but soon realizing why she was asked the question, she answered that she was starving by the end of the shoot. A virtual unknown at the time, yet already a professional to give so much for her role. She plays a wife of a drug dealer (Robert Loggia), who, when she’s widowed, ends up marrying the man responsible for the death of her much older husband, Tony Montana (Al Pacino). With perfect chemistry Pacino & Pfeiffer, showcase a couple in love, lust and abuse.

Of course, I watched this excellent mobster film, a re-make of a 1932 classic (that am yet to see); the setting of which was brought forward into the 1980’s; around 15 years ago. I’d love to re-watch it, truly a masterpiece of film making.

From the glamorously sexy portrayals of Pacino & Pfeiffer, in Scarface; almost a decade later, they re-unite; this time playing lower income, yet similarly emotionally scarred, individuals, working in a diner. Too intense to be called a rom-com, this is more serious; somewhat realistic piece of a cinema; which ends up being a really good (though not excellent) Love Story. Again, Pacino & Pfeiffer, are a pure perfection together. This movie, inspired by a song composed in 1899; of which various movies were made prior to this 1991 classic, from the 30’s to the 60’s, including a (i.e. 66′) version, starring Elvis Presley; is a touchingly bleak depiction, of love and loneliness, lost in the vast cascades of the crowded hustle and bustle of the city of New York.

Pfeiffer Trivia: Michelle Pfeiffer has received 3 Academy Award nominations to date, ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for Dangerous Liaisons (1988), ‘Best Actress’ for The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), & ‘Best Actress’ for Love Field (1992). She is yet to win an Oscar!!!

Catwoman & Batman

Now to one of her most seductive roles, the catty Catwoman. This near excellent comic book adaptation, by Tim Burton, paired Pfeiffer opposite Michael Keaton. She, as Catwoman, vows vengeance against the man who tried to kill her; yet her revengeful nature affects her towards such a negative point, she ends up wanting to get rid of the heroic vigilante, of the dark, Gotham City, Batman, himself.

Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Keaton, in a scene from Batman Returns (1992)

Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer have superb chemistry, as Frenemies. Lovers, in their civilian personas; as Bruce Wayne & Selina Kyle; and foes under leather/latex (Batman & Catwoman). Pfeiffer endured 12 to 14 work hours at a time; dressed in that skintight outfit. Getting in and out of the costume had been thoroughly laborious, as it was designed to fit around her body. Her hard work paid off, as there has never been a better Catwoman, to date; despite many other credible actresses donning a similar catsuit, to play this iconic character.

That Romantic Comedy Co-star

One Fine Day (1996), is an enjoyable romantic-comedy depicted within (as the title suggests) “one fine day”. Though it has the notorious, “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” type, battle of the sexes, similar to the American sex-comedies of yore; sex-comedies, like The Seven Year Itch (1955), Pillow Talk (1959), Some Like It Hot (1959), Irma la Douce (1963) and Sex and the Single Girl (1964), to name some; One Fine Day, is no doubt, a rom-com. 1990’s was definitely the last decade to bring out romantic-comedies; today most rom-coms, tend to be just silly chick flicks; meant for giggly headed teenage girls. They don’t make rom-coms, like It Happened One Night (1934), Ball of Fire (1941), Sabrina (1954), Ariane – Love in the Afternoon (1957), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Annie Hall (1977), When Harry Met Sally… (1989) Notting Hill (1999), et al, anymore. The only excellent rom-com, from this century, I can think of, is Prime (2005); which too I liked more because of Meryl Streep’s brilliantly hilarious performance, as a psychoanalyst of her son’s much older girlfriend.

George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer are perfectly in sync, in One Fine Day. Their witty banter, their mutual dislike for one another (which obviously meant they’d fall head over heels by the end of the movie), and their similar situations. A film the whole family can enjoy.

Beaus from Period Pieces

Besides starring in modern day settings, Pfeiffer has some brilliant roles in period films to her credit. In Dangerous Liaisons (1988); set in 18th century Paris (before the start of the French Revolution, of 1789, an era of decadence); Michelle Pfeiffer plays Madame de Tourvel, a chaste, devoutly religious wife of a member of Parliament. Soon she’ll be seduced, by the corrupt, Vicomte de Valmont (played with brilliance, by John Malkovich). She is doomed, yet Valmont falls for her too. A truly excellent tragic drama. John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer were perfectly cast, although it’s hard to imagine them together in a more modern setting.

If she was a victim in, Stephen Frears’, Dangerous Liaisons, she plays the predator in The Age of Innocence (1993) and Chéri (2009).

Period Pfeiffers
Left: Pfeiffer with John Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
Right: Pfeiffer with Daniel Day-Lewis in The Age of Innocence (1993)
Inset: Pfeiffer with Rupert Friend in Chéri (2009)

In Martin Scorsese’s, The Age of Innocence, we see her character seduce a young lawyer, played by Daniel Day-Lewis (though not in a conniving way, as Valmont did in Dangerous Liaisons); and similarly her much older character in Chéri, seduces a much younger man (Rupert Friend), a son of a courtesan. Pfeiffer again has perfect chemistry with both her co-stars. With Day-Lewis, her peer, it’s obvious why they are well suited; but what’s surprising is how well Friend and Pfeiffer, fare, together. The Age of Innocence, set in the 19th century, is yet another great adaptation of a classic novel. But, unlike Stephen Frears’ earlier venture (i.e. Dangerous Liaisons), his Chéri, falls short. None the less, Chéri, set in early 1900’s, late Belle Époque period, in Paris, is still a pretty good movie.

Real Life on Reel Life

The Beauty Queen
Left: Michelle Pfeiffer won the Miss Orange County beauty pageant in 1978, and participated in the Miss California contest the same year. Seen here winning the 6th place.
Right: In Hairspray (2007), she plays an ageing Beauty Queen.

In the really good cinematic remake, that was Hairspray (2007), she has fun and looks great, in a catty performance. We see Pfeiffer, quite unsuccessfully, trying to seduce a hilarious Christopher Walken character. They have a fun musical number together, and Michelle Pfeiffer proves she’s still a knockout, in the 50th year of her life. She was 49 years old, when the new Hairspray was released (I haven’t seen the original 1988 version). In the movie, we see that Pfeiffer’s character was beauty queen, in her youth, which she was in reality too (pictured above).

Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds (1995)

Besides the 7 male co-stars, of hers, I’ve spoken of; Michelle Pfeiffer has appeared in so many notable roles; whether the films themselves were great or not. Some other movies of her to watch out for, include, Dangerous Minds (1995), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999), The Story of Us (1999), What Lies Beneath (2000), White Oleander (2002), The Family (2013). As I said, some of these might not be great; a couple of them, far from it; but still it’s worth checking out, for Pfeiffer’s sake; especially if you are a die hard fan.

Of course, I watched these movies ages ago. So, this post, entirely relied on my memory. It’s been a while since I last saw a Michelle Pfeiffer movie. In fact, the last film of hers I saw was The Family, co-starring Robert De Niro; and that would have been a year, or so, or more, ago. I don’t remember, it wasn’t a good movie, ’twas alright though; Average Fare. There are still, quite a few movies of hers, am yet to see; and would love to.

This Blog Post, CATWOMAN CHEMISTRY, is my contribution to the, THE MICHELLE PFEIFFER BLOGATHON, hosted by Paul S of Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies (in celebration of Michelle Pfeiffer’s 60th Birthday)!!!!!!

Thank you Paul, for letting me take part in this Pfabulous Pfeiffer Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen

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Correct Answers to the Quiz (my previous blog-post)

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A.1

Hollywood’s Million Dollar smile: Marilyn Monroe

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A.2

Best of the Brits (with Nigerian roots): David Oyelowo

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A.3

Bollywood’s Million $Dollar smile (converted to Indian Rupees₹, of course 😀 ): Madhuri Dixit

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A.4

One of the last two great Pop Stars, of the last Century (80’s & 90’s): Michael Jackson

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A.5

Foxy Frenchwoman, an International Superstar: Marion Cotillard

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Thank you fellow Bloggers for your participation!!!

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On this Day …………

Martin Luther King jr. – Maya Angelou – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

TWO EXECUTIONS

The Civil Rights Activist

On the evening, of 4th April, 1968; globally well know American activist, Martin Luther King Jr., was shot by James Earl Ray. King Jr. succumbed to his wounds, and died an hour after the fatal incident. He was 39 years old. Today marks the 50th Anniversary of his death!!

The People’s Leader

Educated at Berkeley and Oxford, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was a very prominent and progressive figure in Pakistani politics, in the 1970’s.  First as the President of Pakistan (1971 to 1973), and then as the Prime Minister of Pakistan (1973 to 1977). On the 5 of July, 1977, the military, led by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, staged a coup, Operation Fair Play; relieving Prime Minister Bhutto of power. After various appeals and legal battles, Bhutto was finally sentenced to death. On 4th April 1979, 51 year old, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged to death, at Central Jail Rawalpindi. General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq imposed Martial Law, and his military dictatorship ruled Pakistan, until his death in 1988, in a plane crash. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s eldest daughter, Benazir Bhutto, soon came into power, after the death of her father’s assassin; bringing an end to military rule, and in turn becoming the first woman leader of Pakistan; as well as the very first woman to head a democratic government in a Muslim majority nation. The irony is, the more modern, open-minded, progressive country of the United States of America, is yet to have a female leader. Benazir Bhutto, too was assassinated, in 2007. She was 54 years old.

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BIRTH OF A CAGED BIRD

The Poet

Maya Angelou was born on April 4th, 1928; in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. She was named Marguerite Annie Johnson. Having gone through childhood trauma, including rape and child abuse, she grew up to be a prolific poet, singer, and civil rights activist. Having published 7 autobiographies; the most well known happens to be I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings from 1969. This memoir helped increase black feminist writings in the 1970’s. She received many accolades in her lifetime, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2011, which was presented by President Barack Obama. After suffering from poor health, in her old age, Maya Angelou died on the morning of May 28, 2014.

Éric Rohmer – Pareveen Babi – Roger Ebert

THREE GREAT FILM PERSONALITIES

The French Director

According to IMDB, French Film Director, Éric Rohmer, was born on the 4th of April, 1920. BUT, this is disputed by other sites, including Wikipedia’s “Rohmer” page (although if you go to other links, on Wikipedia, his birthday is listed as 4th April). But the Year is definitely, 1920. None the less, he was among the most influential directors, of French New Wave movement. Aged 89, he died on January 11, Year 2010.

Bollywood Babi69

If Parveen Babi were alive, she would’ve been 69 years old. Born into a noble Muslim family, in Junagadh, Gujarat, India; on 4th April 1949; grew up to be the quintessential heroine of 70’s Bollywood. With her minimalistic modern style (parted Babi bangs & bellbottoms) and brilliant acting talent, she captivated audiences of that era; as both a star and an intellectual actress. She was the first Bollywood star to appear on the front page of America’s Time magazine (July 1976 issue) as the modern face of Indian Cinema. But, alas, she suffered from schizophrenia, almost her entire life. Once her illness was out in the open, thanks to Mahesh Bhatt’s feminist films, Arth (1982); she left the industry (in 1983, after completing her film projects; which were released throughout the 80’s decade, keeping her fame intact) and took refuge under the patronage of U. G. Krishnamurti, and embarked on a spiritual journey. She returned in the late 80’s, by now suffering, not just from her ailments; but from deep depression as well. Soon she became a recluse. Parveen Babi died all alone, on 20th January 2005, and no body knew; until two days later. Her death, till date, is not clear as to what truly happened; police ruled out any foul play, and apparently she starved to death. She was 55 years old. Bollywood ought to have been more empathetic towards her.

The Death of a 1975 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Roger Ebert, the most prestigious American Film Critic, who was a film critic for Chicago Sun-Times, from 1967 until his death; won a  Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, in 1975. Ebert was the first Film Critic, to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Having lived with cancer of the thyroid and salivary glands since 2002, Aged 70, Roger Ebert, died on 4th April 2013; as he was preparing to leave the hospital.

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……………………… – – these lines were spoken by, the character of, Ann Shankland (played by Rita Hayworth); in a scene from the brilliant movie, Separate Tables (1958). Late last night, I watched this amazing downloaded movie; which has been magnificently transported from the stage to the screen. Separate Tables, directed by Delbert Mannis, is based on a collective of two one-act plays by Terence Rattigan (namely Table by the Window and Table Number Seven).

This entire very bold Hollywood movie, is rigged with Sexual Tension, Sexual Repression and Sexual Harassment! AND 2018, with Hollywood’s #MeToo movement, feels like the perfect time to watch this movie. With a spectacular cast confined into the lonely Beauregard Hotel in Bournemouth, in the southern coast of England, UK; the film deals with love, lust, loneliness, bitterness, desire and depression. The star that stole the show (for me) was Gladys Cooper, as the harsh, unpleasant and domineering, Mrs. Railton-Bell; although it’s Wendy Hiller (as Miss. Pat Cooper), that took home the Oscar, for ‘Best Actress in a Supporting Role’. Nominated for 7 Oscars, this movie grabbed two. The other went to, actor David Niven (for ‘Best Actor in a Leading Role’); for his marvelous performance as the kindly n’ somewhat comical, yet pretentious, retired army officer; Major Angus Pollock. Another sidekick worth checking out is May Hallatt, as the stoic, yet enjoyable, Miss Meacham (who appeared in the same role on the original, West End and Broadway, stage production)

Several story lines intersect one another; but there are two major tales, that surface to prominence. One deals with Major Angus Pollock’s close platonic friendship with a repressed spinster, Sibyl Railton-Bell (Deborah Kerr); and Sibyl’s mother’s (Mrs. Railton-Bell) various schemes to ruin it. When it’s reported in the newspaper, that Major Pollack has pleaded guilty of sexual harassment of six women, at a local cinema; this gives Mrs. Railton-Bell a perfect reason, not to just get the Major, away from her fragile daughter’s life (who on learning this has a sort of nervous breakdown), but to be thrown out of residence from the Beauregard Hotel; and sent as far away as possible, in disgrace, from Bournemouth. Apparently, the original draft of this 1954 British play, however, saw the Major, not pleading to a misdemeanour of sexual harassment of women, but homosexual importuning, and suffering from his sexual repression in a homophobic world. In the movie, he does hint at it; saying he can’t help the way he is, and speaking of how he was picked on, at school, for being less masculine. It’s a pity, due to code of ethics of that era; the play and film were repressed from showing, what it initially intended. By the changing of the sexual repression of a gay Major, into that of a straight man sexually harassing women; ironically makes it an actual perversion; that needs to be forgiven. A sympathetic light is thrown the way of the Major; but for something, that in reality is far worse than just being a gay man struggling to keep his sexuality a secret, at the same time secretly acting on his desires; ironically in a public place. The world has definitely come a long way since then; or has it?

The other story line deals with a divorced couple, who meet after several years, at the Beauregard Hotel. We discover that the sophisticated wife, Ann Shankland (Hayworth) had sent her ex-husband, John Malcolm (Burt Lancaster), to prison for assaulting her. The washed out, drunk, John Malcolm; is another lowly character, Mrs. Railton-Bell has no regard for. After divorcing John, Ann had later re-married and re-divorced; it appears to have happened more than once; but she’s never lost her love for John. John, though he has a secret girlfriend, Miss. Pat Cooper (whom he says, he wants to get married to), is still in love with Ann. John & Ann, suffer when they are together, and suffer when they are apart. It’s a love-hate relationship; that cannot survive, without one another. Despite the sexual assault and the tensed, stressful, coexistence; they need each other; in a savagely animalistic sense, of love and lust.

Separate Tables has some superb character sketches. An excellent study into human psychology in the modern era. Everything about the movie blends in beautifully; the characters, the set of the hotel, the dinning tables. Along with the two leading plots, the other story lines that intersect, include; a modern young couple secretly in love (Rod Taylor & Audrey Dalton); the compassionate and understanding, elderly, Lady Matheson (Cathleen Nesbitt); the “self sufficient” hotel owner/manager and secret lover of John Malcolm, Miss. Pat Cooper; the elderly gentleman, Mr. Fowler (Felix Aylmer); and the strong built and bravely blunt, Miss Meacham, who too like the Major, seems to be afraid of people, as she states comically “..they are so complicated, …that’s why I prefer horses”. She’s a tough broad, with a touch of masculinity; which could imply her own sexual repression, that of a lesbian woman, but that’s unclear. Of course, though a dull spinster herself, Miss Meacham, is very different to the other young spinster, whom we see openly suffer from sexual repression; i.e. Deborah Kerr’s Sybil (spoken of above). It is obvious that the homely, plain-Jane, Sybil (a complete contrast to her stylish mother), has feelings for the major; but she’s unable to do anything about it. The Major doesn’t reciprocate to her subtle advances, but happens to be sympathetic towards her. Again, which makes sense, as in the original draft, the Major was meant to be gay.

Another thing to look out for, are the glamorous costumes designed by Mary Grant, and the Oscar favourite, Edith Head. Overall a wonderful movie; despite the significant change of the homosexual subject matter, into sexual harassment towards women (even though one’s sexuality oughtn’t have been a crime, even back then; while sexual harassment, always should be).

Separate Tables (1958)
My Rating: 10/10 !!!!!!!!!!

Bookish Nuwan
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

P.S. Also see my Special Blog Post, I did yesterday, as a PAGE; That Book, That Movie (of 2017)!!

 

Call Me By Your Name (2017): The Perfect Picture

A very pure form of storytelling, brought out by Luca Guadagnino, Call me by your Name; is one of the greatest English Language movies to come out of this century. The innocence, the romance, the sensuality; Guadagnino seduces his audiences into a heart-rending love affair; with the 17 year old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), his desire for the much older archaeology scholar, Oliver (Armie Hammer); and the Italian landscape. In the past, I’ve spoken about Why I love, films like Roman Holiday (1953), Jules et Jim (1962), Annie Hall (1977); et al; on IMDB!! The purity of the realistic, natural feel of these tear jerker romances, and sad, yet beautifully told love stories, with a mature understanding of human emotions; immerses you into these movies, empathizing with the characters; and being deeply involved with their intellectual conversations; understanding, and accepting their bonds, along with their eventual separations or tragic rides to death of their romantic flings (either metaphorically or literally). The style also reminded me of the Art Films of Éric Rohmer; especially Pauline à la Plage (1983); English Title – Pauline at the Beach (which was, also a coming of age story, released in the year Call me by your Name is set in); and Rohmer’s famed “Tales of the Four Seasons” series of films.

Everything about this movie is uniquely brilliant. The story/narrative (based on the novel by André Aciman); the script/screenplay by the renowned James Ivory (collaborated with Luca Guadagnino and Walter Fasano); the music/soundtrack by Sufjan Stevens; the cinematography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom; film edit by Walter Fasano, the film direction by Luca Guadagnino; – They all come together to bring out something pure and touchingly sublime.

From the artistic title credits, at the beginning; which look like chalk on board (most probably a shout out to the 80’s, when chalk was still used on Blackboards; by the 90’s schools slowly transitioned to Whiteboards with gel markers) with pictures of Hellenistic sculptures showcasing the beauty of the male form; to the finalé, with the burning fire in the cold winter reflecting on Elio’s crying face (like an allegory of his burning desire; being submerged with an unbearable depression of lost love); as the end credits roll; with Sufjan Stevens lending his vocals to the melonchonic Visions of Gideon; this movie completely encapsulates the audience emotions. Though the movie might have ended, the deep impact it leaves us with, stays on for days and days. It feels so real.

Regardless of it being a love story between man and a boy; the emotional turmoil, of experiencing first love, is something every human being can relate to; immaterial of his/her sexual orientation and racial/religious background. It’s a great coming age story, of two gay men; shown in such a naturalistic and non-judgemental manner; it makes one believe in love and romance. The best line of the movie is delivered by Perlman Sr. (i.e. Elio’s father), played by Michael Stuhlbarg; towards the end of the movie. Such an understanding parent, who doesn’t condemn his son’s act of love, with a much older man. Both Elio’s father and mother, Annella Perlman (played elegantly by British born actress, Amira Casar); are very accepting, modern, open-minded individuals; who trust their teenage son’s maturity; yet cuddle and shower him with love kids desire from their parents. Age has nothing to do with maturity. There are so many fully grown immature adults in the world; incapable of intellect, deep though and understanding. Here we see a teenager, along with his caring parents; who are highly mature and sophisticated, in dealing with emotional problems with dignity.

Speaking of elegance and dignity; the Perlman’s definitely are a very privileged family; yet they aren’t obsessed with materialism; even though their superior taste in the world of arts is well acknowledged. They are well in tune with nature and their natural surroundings around the beautiful Villa, in the region of Lombardy, in Northern Italy; that they reside in. We see Elio and Oliver (an American Jewish visitor for the summer, working as an assistant to Elio’s father) exploring the natural countryside, cycling, swimming and dancing. Added to which, we see Elio as a book worm and a lover of classical music.

From the music, to the cinematography, the atmosphere created within; the entire movie seduces us, without necessary showcasing graphic sex. The much talked about peach scene, has a naïvety entwined with it’s sensuality; as erotic as it is, it’s also a touching moment. Elio’s desire to penetrate Oliver is obvious (as it’s led to believe Elio is on the receiving end), the touching of the soft skin on the peach, exploring the hole atop, it’s aesthetically sensual without being cheap and vulgar; yet Elio feels humiliated when Oliver teases him for it. Innocence, eroticism and misery, all rolled in one; making one feel sorry for Elio.

Nature and the aesthetic male nude, play a crucial role in the movie. There is a scene where the archeology professor (i.e. Elio’s father, mentioned above) takes Elio and Oliver to see the ancient Kouros statues that have washed up close to shore, at Lake Garda. Elio and Oliver admire the statue of the male form in all it’s beauty; later the Professor tells Oliver of his admiration for the bronze kouroi, the aesthetic male nude of the bygone era; an understanding of artists’ affections for the youthful male body (which practically was like an understanding, and acceptance, in part of the professor, of Oliver’s love for the Professor’s fully developed young son). And then there is a scene where we see Oliver’s naked physique standing in the dark, from behind, standing at a windowsill; and his beautiful body looks like a Hellenistic works of art, discovered at the Lake Garda, itself. Armie Hammer was 30 years old, and in marvellous shape, when he did this role. The then, 21 year old, Timothée Chalamet, is very believable as a 17 year old Elio, who looks 15. Yup, Chalamet; is capable of portraying an even younger teenager, if he had to. What is more impressive is the fact, that both these actors are actually heterosexual; yet they play their on-screen homosexual romance with such ease, it makes the movie entirely more believably brilliant. And the atmosphere created with the landscape and background score; helps us cherish their beautiful May/December romance, admiringly.

Speaking of music, Call me by your Name also has a great soundtrack; especially with Elio being a musical prodigy of sorts. We get to hear Elio’s own renditions of maestros of classical music, the likes of Bach; and the way Liszt might have played Bach. Added to which there are some beautiful modern day songs, like Sufjan Stevens Mystery of Love and the very 80’s Love my Way by The Psychedelic Furs (from their 1982 album, Forever Now). Speaking of the 80’s; as I mentioned earlier, this movie is set in the Summer of 1983. Yet, Luca Guadagnino manages to make the 80’s feel very today. In other words; instead of making the 80’s, vintage; without making the setting a blast from the past; Guadagnino transports us, the audience back; making us feel as if we are currently living in the 1980’s. It feels like the present. The movie unravels in front of our eyes, as if it were happening, at this moment. Not in a nostalgic sense.

Teenage angst, sexual awakening, first crush; these are coming of age themes; all humans can relate to (whether it’s a love for an older person; where the adult reciprocates; or whether it’s a painful experience of unrequited love). Elio, in one sense, is a very lucky teenager; he not only falls in love; but his love with an adult is consummated (without marriage, of course). Added to which, he has very understanding parents, who give him the freedom teenagers desire, without suffocating him; at the same time, they are there for him, when he needs them the most. When Elio, heartbroken, calls his mum to come and get him; his mother rushes to his aid. The father, consoles the heartbroken child, advising him, not to stop feeling human emotions; because of the pain of losing his first love. Yet, we do sympathize, with Elio. The moment, he whispers “Elio, Elio, Elio” (reminiscence of a romantic moment they shared, where they called each other with their own names; “Call me by your name, and I’ll call you by mine”); to his ex-lover over the phone”, pulls at your heart strings. And Elio sitting and staring at the fire, the emotionally devastated state he is in, when he finds out, Oliver is getting married to a woman; is heartbreaking. Similar, yet so different, to the silent; not speaking a word, yet facial expressions betraying their emotions; type ending from Roman Holiday. That Peck & Hepburn love story is till date, my all time favourite movie; and Call me by your Name, no doubt is my favourite gay themed love story; and amongst my favourites from this century.

This artistically told delicate romance, made with a small budget; has been nominated for 4 Oscars. From ‘Best Motion Picture of the Year’, to ‘Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role’, to ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’, to ‘Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)’ for Mystery of Love; all the nominations are deservedly so; yet it is sad, that Luca Guadagnino, has not been nominated for his superb film direction. Call me by your Name, should at least bag the top prize, for ‘Best Picture’; if not for all four. Yet, I highly doubt, Timothée Chalamet, would win the ‘Best Actor’ trophy; as the academy tends to look at the Body of Work as well (which is absurd, as there is something called a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for that); but anyway, I felt Gary Oldman did a slightly more brilliant role (of playing past British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill), in Darkest Hour (2017). Besides Call me by your Name and Darkest Hour; the only other ‘Best Picture’ nominee I’ve seen is, Dunkirk (2017). All three films are superb in their own right; but Call me by your Name, definitely deserves the coveted Oscar statuette, THE most. No matter, how great, the rest of the films nominated are; I highly doubt, that any of them come close to the unique masterpiece that is Call me by your Name!!!!!

Call Me By Your Name (2017)
My Rating: 10/10 !!!!!!!!!!

I first watched Call me by your Name, last month, on 11th January 2018, streamed online, on a useless website, with a pathetic copy of the film (the quality was soooo bad); BUT the movie was totally worth it. The fact I fell in love with this movie, despite watching it in such bad quality; says a lot about what a great movie it is. So I wanted to re-watch it, on a better quality. Earlier this month, I downloaded a copy of the film, from another site. It took 7 hours or so; felt like the whole day. To see, it was a 30 second clip, stating, to watch the full movie, go to some website!! I was infuriated, and utterly disappointed. Then, on 22nd February 2018, I downloaded it from the site I started downloading films, for the first time, last year (see my post Mardi-Gras, Movies-Gay from March 2017). Initially Call me by your Name was not available on the said site. It took only a couple of hours, and I watched it for a second time, then and there. The quality of the downloaded version was crisp and clear (sadly just the English subtitles for the French and Italian segments were not available; but I can make out some phrases in French, anyway ’twas not much of an issue). The film was worth re-watching, in better quality. It’s sad these great movies are rarely shown in Cinemas here; even then they don’t last for more than a week (watched Darkest Hour, at the Cinema; which lasted only one week). I’d love to re-experience this movie, away from the Laptop; and on the big wide screen someday. Until then ….

Later!!!!!
Nuwan Sen
(Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense)

🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑

Merry Christmas 2017 !!!!!

Originally a Pagan Ritual, worshiping Sol Invictus, the Sun God (which started in the Roman Empire in 274AD, on the shortest day of the year); the Christians took over some 60 years later, to celebrate the birth of Christ (Jesus Christ was not born on Christmas Day; his birth date is unknown, but speculated to be somewhere in the height of Summer, in July or August); coinciding with the Winter solstice. Today, the 2st century, it’s no more just a Christian religious holiday (except for the deeply devout), but an international holiday season. It does not matter, whether you are Christian/Anglican/Protestant/Catholic (or from any other religious branches pertaining to Christianity) or NOT; Religious or NOT; everyone one loves Christmas. No more, is it just to mark the birth of Christ; but fun filled holiday season, for all (whoever wants to enjoy this holiday).

’tis the season to jolly ……..

 

Have a Ball !!!!!

Christ might not have been born of Christmas Day, but these famous people were….

…..among many others!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL MY FELLOW BLOGGERS!!!!

Nuwan Sen

#NuwanARTS
#‎NuwanSensFilmSense

Born into a Buddhist family, I grew up considering myself a Buddhist. And growing up I did believe and practice the philosophical side of this so called “more of a philosophy than a religion” religion. Which I genuinely believed in the past, was to be an honest; good hearted, intellectual, kind, caring, loving, open-minded, understanding, empathetic, humane; human being. But having lived in Sri Lanka, a so called Buddhist country for 19½ years altogether (6 years in a row in my teens; between the ages of 12½ to 18½; and now, for just over 8 years so far, plus short periods of times in between), I found the practice of Lankan Buddhists as the most evil practice anywhere; with the most cruel, inhumane, Buddhist people I’ve come across (so far as I am concerned at least) in the world. A Buddhist country that has given me sooooo much of stress, depression and misery; I’d be an idiot to have any love for this country or this extremist religion.

Lankan people, in general tend to possess, very extremist ideologies; no matter what the religion or race (after all, there was an almost 30 year unnecessary civil war between the Sinhalese and the Tamil, which could have been resolved eons ago without so much bloodshed, death and destruction). One can understand illiteracy and poverty as a core reason for such ignorance and hatred (although poverty is no excuse for cruelty), but the more educated, so called intellectual, rich, sophisticated (whether one is actually sophisticated and hold any form intellect, among Lanka’s rich n’ pretentious elite, is quite debatable; money does not bring about intellect or sophistication) society of Sri Lanka, are no better; when it comes to religious and racial extremism. Especially when it comes to foreign delegates; you’ll find Lankan’s all smiles and welcoming (but these smiles might not be genuine); behind a foreigners back, Lankan’s can be sarcastic, with crude humour. Or, they might directly say something utterly insulting and racist, in their own mother tongue; but with a plastic smile pasted on their face; so as to not let the foreigner know, how locals actually feel about their alien presence here. Why? you wonder. One, Travel is a major industry in SL, and the country’s economy grows through tourism; as well as foreign aid (another reason to have kept the war going on for so long, from both sides). Of course, this reason mainly applies to people with an actual understanding of economical growth (or lack of it), in the country. And Two, Sri Lankan people are rarely honest. They can be sadistically blunt and sarcastically insulting to other Lankan’s quite directly; and never necessarily show any genuine friendship and love to anyone, in general. A fake friendship could exist, if it reaps benefits. People here are not ashamed of doing anything wrong, just getting caught. Of course all this is in general sense, that applies, not to everyone, but, to the majority of this hellish country. A country that’s quite literally “hot as HELL”, although that’s not the only thing that makes this country hell on Earth. Paradise, it definitely is not!!!!!

What’s worse is this ingenuine hypocritical traits are passed down by parents to their young. I’ve met and heard people, especially Sri Lankan’s living abroad in secrecy (illegal immigrants), who are teaching their children, to do wrong; but not get caught. Plus, Lankan’s tend to teach kids all these false customary acts of tradition, but no real respect and/or etiquette. In fact, the tradition of going down on all fours in front of elders, as if to give them a blow job, is pretty distasteful. The way heavily cleavage women, squat down with their heaving breasts sweeping the floor, in front of horny orange robed monks, the hypocrisy and fakeness of it, is pathetically disgusting. Oh, it doesn’t matter how indecent people are in behaviour; and how disrespectful their actions tend to be; so long as, end of the day, they squat and pretend to show respect in front of their elders and other fraudulent monkeys (umm!! I mean monks). Respect should lie in one’s heart, without real respect, all these brainwashed robotic customary acts are baseless and utterly ridiculous.

Look at all the Temple Bullshit, in Sri Lanka. All blindly following customary acts, given down by traditions, which are less to do with Buddhism, and more to do with fear motivation. So basically if I don’t go and worship at the temple, and get blessings from a dead man (for the Buddha died centuries ago), bad things will happen to me, no matter how good a human I might be. Doesn’t that make Buddhism, Evil???? I highly doubt religion is meant to be so vengeful. In fact according to Buddhism, one is not to blindly accept everything given down by tradition. There is so much unnecessary evils that take place in this country in the name of culture, false pride, fake sense of patriotism and inhumane archaic traditions. The simple act of piercing a baby girl’s ears, ’cause girls are supposed to have holes, including in their ears, is quite a distasteful tradition. If a girl (or even a guy) want’s to wear rings, they’d pierce all over their body if they desire to, when they grow up. Why put a baby girl through so much of pain and tears in the name of tradition????

Premarital sex is a no no. Yet people do practice it, in secrecy, and then they hypocritically talk about Lankan culture, and all that nonsense, as if the utmost devout. Marriage is a license for people to have sex here. Most men here being Mama’s boys; the mother is the servant and the wife the prostitute (or the wife could encompass both traits, equally). Virginity, especially in (unmarried) women, is held with high regard. A married couple indulging in a sexual relationship (immaterial if they procreate, or just have sex for sexual pleasure) is acceptable; but a decent good person, who might want to be in a proper relationship with one person (but does not believe in the concept of marriage), is shunned if he desires to have sex, even if it’s just with one partner. A man being a bachelor, does not mean he’s a playboy. There are more promiscuous individuals, who are actually in wedlock, than out of it. Not that there is anything wrong with being promiscuous, if one is open about it, and doesn’t use people, to their advantage. I, aged 42, am still a virgin; partially by choice. And I’m neither ashamed nor proud, of the fact that I don’t have sex life, and never had one. And nobody has the right to judge me for it. And I don’t believe in the fact one should stay a virgin, till they get married, either. Marriage is not a necessity for me, neither is sex. But yes, the desire for sex exists. Of course, I want to have sex, it’s normal, but with a person I am attracted to. I have fallen in love many times, but ’twas always unrequited love, thus nothing happened. The point is, being a pretty decent fellow, I don’t believe in jumping into bed with any Tom, Dick, or Hariendre, walking down the street. Nor do I believe in the concept marriage (it’s not a necessity for me to legalize a sexual relationship, not that I’m against it). So I find myself fighting both worlds, the side that thinks I’m a loser for not having sex, for not having gone on a date, and the side that thinks I ought to get married. I don’t believe in getting married for the sake of it either. Wouldn’t I be ruining two lives, if I did so??? I am as open minded as you get. Way too open minded an individual, with a brain of my own, thank you, for such a narrow minded country. So basically, neither do I believe in jumping into bed, or taking the plunge into matrimony, to please others. Period!!! Anyway, if I had a partner ( I wish I did, or do, in the near future, at least once); and we wish to get married, I highly doubt we’ll be able to get married the way we’d want, in a society still residing in the dark ages.

Plus the hypocrisy of weddings in this country, where do I even begin. The show and pomp weddings in the name of tradition, or worse Buddhism (as Buddhism is the exact opposite); tend to be the worst. It’s interesting how so many couples climb the Poruwa (wedding altar) in their glittery gaudy traditional attire, as if they were the virgin Mary, prior to the ceremony. Makes old hags very happy. Don’t get me started on how people suck up to the older generation here, and then degradingly make fun of them behind their back. As I stated earlier, no real respect exists here. Plus, the so called Lankan traditional weddings have very little do with this disgraceful country’s traditions or actual religion. The Bride dressed in white (a western tradition started by Queen Victoria); of course here it’s a Kandyan Osariya worn in white by the bride, with a lot of jewelry, and one long necklace, appropriately placed as if cover their breasts and vagina (whilst the lusty blood red Osariya actually feels more traditional; and appropriate, considering the fact, how many brides are actual virgins to don the virginal white on their wedding day); the bestman/men, pageboy/s, bridesmaid/s and flowergirl/s; the pouring of milk of clay pots stacked on top of each other (à la the champagne being poured on stacked up crystalware, in the west); the cutting of Kiribath (milk-rice pudding) since the late 90’s (similar to cutting the wedding cake, another copied western tradition); etc etc ….. An elegant grand wedding, if one desires it, is fine; but hypocriticality of calling it as per Lankan culture, or worse as per Buddhist culture (where as Buddhism is about simplicity, and grand scale weddings are not); and the use of the Nilamé kit/Tuppotia (a traditional show off garb worn by Kandyan Lankan’s attributed to the temple known as the Dalada Malgawa; especially donned at the Dalada Malgawa Perehara (parade)) is what’s wrong. Again the fact that the Nilamé kit, is attributed to Kandyan Buddhists, itself is a wrong concept. Buddhism is the exact opposite of the show and pomp, practiced by the Dalada Malgawa; where Buddha’s tooth relic is placed inside a gold gilded mini stupa, and no one can actually see the relic, but the admire the gold casing it’s covered up in. It definitely looks beautiful, but how do we really know, their is a relic in there, let alone a Buddha’s tooth??? And the treatment, torture and use of chained up Elephants by the Dalada Malgawa; to be showcased at the Perehara; is pure Animal Cruelty!!!!!! Completely goes against the teachings of Buddhism.

Of course, Animal rights activists in Colombo argue that these Elephant in Sri Lanka should be protected because it’s a Sub Species; found nowhere else in the world (which is an argument more to do with a Sri Lankan ego, than Animal Rights). BUT,  Sub species or not, imprisonment and maltreatment of animals is still imprisonment and maltreatment; be it Elephants, Oxen or Dogs. Animal torture is still animal torture, be it a unique Sri Lankan species of Elephants or not. Besides the Dalda Maligawa Perehara is all show and pomp, in the name of Buddhism. That’s the biggest irony; again, “Buddhism is the exact opposite of showing off”!! Going back to the hypocrisy of Lankan weddings for instance; what’s worse is that they have weddings at temples as well (temples never had weddings here in the past, but it’s like Buddhists are competing with Christians, for Christians do have Church Weddings). The wedding, in the proper sense, was meant to be at the Bride’s family home, and Home Coming function, at the Grooms. What’s even worse is that, at these weddings sometimes the  groom comes to wedding seated on a chained suffering elephant. Or even a teary frightened little baby elephant. Surly people can’t be that ignorant, not to notice an animal suffering. No animals should be used in this manner!!!

And getting back to the ridiculous show and pomp padres in the name Buddhism, hosted by the famed Buddhist temple in Kandy; the act of participating in the perahara is also very traumatic for the elephants. Elephants don’t like bright lights and loud noises, and they are alarmed by objects moving rapidly at the edge of their field of vision. Even a tourist watching the show should realize how stressed these elephants in deep distress are. So these animals that are among the most intelligent on the planet are being repeatedly subjected to traumatic experiences in the name of human pageantry. And, as I stated earlier, according to Buddhism people aren’t suppose to blindly carry traditions, handed down by ancestors. If the use of/harming of, Animals, were officially banned; then this Perehara nonsense would have to stop, automatically. It won’t completely put an end to ill treatment of animals; but it’s a start. Look at Canary Islands and Catalonia, they banned bullfighting, despite it being a brutally famed Spanish tradition. Animals, be it Elephants or bulls, aren’t lucky to take part in these festivities, for they’ve been tortured to a point they don’t even know that they are elephants/bulls. These animals are meant to be wild and free, with their own families, not meant to used for sick pleasures of the inhumane human beings. Eating meat might be a necessary evil (though that’s also debatable), ill treatment of animals is not!!

Everything from illtreatment of wild animals, to illtreatment of domesticated animals exists. How Cattle and Poultry are treated here, is a different argument; but let’s get to the fact how pets are mistreated here, especially Cats & Dogs. Doggism exists to the utmost in this Doggist nation of so called Buddhists. There have been many factual articles of how dog meat was being sold as venison, and other meats; and small fish from dirty canals were being sold as seafood. Most victims of these cons, happen to be foreign tourists, who love to try out local delicacies (and they sure do, unknowingly). In July this year, many prestigious Sri lankan Universities, poisoned stray dogs in the most inhumane manner and watched them screeching in pain for hours as they died. Pregnant cats were being buried alive. And many more stories emerged with pictures and video clips in newspapers and social media. What a lovely Buddhist country this is?? Yes, they can be so proud of this nation???

Of course, local Buddhists believe, humans are a superior being, and that humans that have been bad in previous births, are reborn as animals; thus they feel it’s OK to illtreat animals, and to turn a blind eye to animal suffering. Buddhism does NOT SAY, it’s OK to illtreat animals, even though the theory of Karma and rebirth, exists in Buddhist scriptures.

Karma itself is a questionable subject. Karma sounds really great in theory. So people who ill treat you, will get it back someday. It could be in their next birth. But their is dark side to this. So if you have apparently done something unthinkable in your past life, you are doomed in this life no matter what you do? nor matter what a good human you are? I’m not taking about rewards, but just to be content with life. But apparently I can’t because I was apparently a monster in my past birth?? That’s terrible!! So basically there is no hope what so ever for a peaceful happy life. Karma is a bitch!!!! Of course I don’t believe in re-birth. In the sense, that there is no factual proof of it’s existence. But I keep an open mind, so I don’t really say, that re-birth does not exist per se, but that I don’t know. And to be quite honest, nobody really knows what happens after one dies, until they actually die. It might be the end of it, or heaven and hell (as Christians believe), or re-birth, or something else entirely. Nobody really knows, with a 100% assuracy. And I’m in no hurry to find out (even though there have been times so depressing, that I’ve felt the desire to find out, but no, not in any real hurry).

And getting back to dogs, and concept of apparently humans being re-born as dogs, or other, according to their karma, brought forward from their previous life. If being born a dog, is to atone for a sin committed in your past birth; one ought to wonder, aren’t dogs way kinder and innocent than humans. In fact, Dog is better than God. Of course, the Buddha is not a god, but supposedly a great human being, who walked the earth centuries ago. Yet all humans are flawed creatures, nobody is perfect. BUT the Buddha was supposedly a perfect mortal being. Yet, if you think of it, as Prince Siddhartha, he got tired of having sex with his woman, and thus finally abandoned his wife, and new born baby. Sure, he gained enlightenment or whatever later; BUT what he did at that moment is unapologetic. To leave his wife, at such a crucial moment in their life. A very selfish act. And for all you know, the Buddha was gay; that might be the reason he grew tired of constantly screwing a woman. Yet ironically, Homosexuality is frowned upon, specifically by Lankan Buddhist. Further proof of his sexuality could be the fact, when the Mara (a demon in Buddhist mythology, considered as fact, by most Buddhists) sent his beautiful daughters to seduce the Buddha, he wasn’t perturbed. Because he was so pure, or was there another reason for it? Jokes apart, if Buddha, or any religious leaders were actually homosexual (and there is NOTHING wrong with being gay), the irony is, that the Most homophobic societies exists within these religious circles. While religious people ought to be more open, accepting, kind, generous and non-judgemental.

People here tend to show prejudice to everything possible. Let’s take a look at peoples preference towards the fairer skin tones, as an acceptance of beauty. Buddha was supposedly beautiful, because of his fair skin. What proof is there, that he was fair??? It’s pretty much similar to the portrayal of Christ as white. Christ wasn’t Caucasian, as he was from the middle east, but he could’ve been fair skinned. And Buddha being from Northern India (he was born in Lumbini, Nepal of today, back then Lumbini was part of India), it’s possible that he was fairer. But fairness does not necessarily mean attractiveness. There are lot of dark skinned, or jet black, people with sharp beautiful features, who tend to be just as attractive, or even prettier. The Indian sub-continent tends to be favourable towards the fair skin tones. But, North India, Nepal & Pakistan, tend to be fairer skinned anyway. Sri Lanka is a BLACK Country (or at least dark skinned); here the prejudice is far more absurd, of “the pot calling the kettle black” syndrome, quite literally. But being black skinned is not a fault. Fairer skinned people here insult Dark skinned people & Dark skinned people here tend to insult darker skinned people, and so on, even with the use of the ‘N’ word (used in a more derogatory sense, than a friendly manner). Once when somebody, almost as dark as me, called me a Nigger; I told him, if he actually said that to a black person (meaning people of actual African decent) he would have got it. The irony is, that whilst studying in New Delhi, a group of Africans, called me “White”!!!! Back in my mid-20’s, when I came to Sri Lanka, with a superb Modeling Portfolio, done in Delhi; I tried give it a try here. I was asked to bleach my skin. Am not ashamed of my dark skin, but Lankan’s do have a major complex about their complexion. And I wasn’t as dark as I am today. The guy, who called me a “Nigger”, bleached his skin, went onto be a quite good looking model (endorsing ‘Fair & Handsome’ fairness creams) and a pathetic actor (that people adore), in Sri Lanka. Am glad of my decision not to take that false route.

Whether Buddha was fair skinned or not, nobody would really know, but I doubt he would have differentiated among skin tones, or put labels on standards of Beauty. Sri Lanka’s racism is far worse, than that of the British, America or Australia; where too racism exists, besides being multicultural societies. Of course Sri Lankan’s do have a dislike for Caucasians as well, but just that (as I mentioned above), they bow down to white skin, but back bite like anything. They are not genuine about their racism. European tourists are called Sudha/Sudhi (a derogatory term for white skinned male/female), or Karapota (Cockroach, maybe ’cause of the white blood roaches tend to have); but Karapota is more of a term used for the Dutch & Portuguese Burgher communities here. Muslims are called Tambia, and so on. You find Racism in SL, towards skin tones, other religions besides their own, and other races besides their own; et al, and is far worse, than anywhere else. The rest of the world, most people know about it, be it corruption, racism, violence etc etc … Very few have even heard of the insignificant dot of island on the world’s map, or it’s disturbingly negative attributes.

Of course, this actor I brought up earlier wasn’t a bad person, as such. I just brought him up as an example, how dark skinned people insult other, even slightly darker than them, to the extent of using the “N” word (I’ve gone through far worse psychological, and to some extent physical, abuse, especially through the hands of Sri Lankan’s, and more specifically by Lankan Buddhists, residing all over the world). No, the untalented superstar of Lankan cinema, in not a bad person, but just a bloody fool, and quite an unhygienic one at that (the irony of people disliking dogs, and other animals, because they feel animals are unclean, is quite laughable; my dogs are way cleaner than most people in this country). And this person is an advocate of Buddhism in the country. And a vegetarian (how much of a vegetarian is another debatable fact, a lot of fishertarians call themselves vegetarians. Fish are living things that can feel too, and they suffer the most, caught in a net, as they die; and don’t get me started on seafood that are boiled alive). I am not a vegetarian, but I don’t behave like I’m going to die without meat. I can go for/and have gone for, months without eating any meat. But most non-vegetarian Buddhist here behave as if they are die without meat. Their greed for animal flesh, or in any other manner, is revolting. Of course, this does not mean, just ’cause a person is vegetarian, they are better people, or that they treat animals with love and kindness. All religions, and races, within this country prefer to believe, only their beliefs/race is right, and the best. But Buddhism, which is not meant to discriminate, tends to be the worse kind of supremacist attitude prevalent in this so called Buddhist nation.

Look at the Sri Lankan flag itself, with a devilish looking Lion holding the sword, and archaic representation of Sinhalese supremacy (thus the country itself has this archaic mentality of the dark ages, respecting a royal lion of an  non-progressive nation), with the Bo-leaf on the four corners (symbolic of Buddhism), of the maroon background (maroon colour represents the Sinhalese race). But what’s worse is, who or what is the lion showing the sword to?? The Green & Saffron stripes, representing the Hindu’s & the Muslims, respectively. So basically, instead of protecting the minority groups of the country (the Christians & the Catholic Burgher’s are not even touched upon) the lion is saying, don’t fuck with us Sinhalese Buddhist, we rule!!! Either way, why should the flag have something to say for, or against, any religion or race. Shouldn’t it represent something a bit more universally significant, blending harmoniously with flags of other nations, in simplicity; without trying to ape an archaic royal mentality.

The Swastika, is an ancient symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, attributed to the Aryan race. Again peoples fascination for fairer skin, can date back to the Buddha’s era. The Buddha himself being from the Aryan race (non-Buddhist are known as anāryas) was supposedly beautifully fair skinned (as mentioned above). So the Aryan race is fair skinned, and our own roots are Indo-Aryan, but through evolution under the hellish sun, we have really dark skin, yet our sharp features give away our Aryan roots. But what’s wrong is the Swastika’s racist roots, that gave way to Hitler’s Nazi regime to use it as the symbol of Aryan supremacy. And even today white supremacists, neo-Nazi groups, use it. And in Sri Lanka, it has become a symbol of Buddhist supremacy. And it’s interesting to note, how a lot Sri Lankan’s believe Hitler was right to cleanse the world of Jews. Plus local Buddhists attitudes towards the Muslims is pretty much the same as Nazi attitudes towards the Jews!!! And there are various schools of thought when it comes to Buddhism, and Sri Lankan’s feel, only their Buddhism is correct; even which they don’t really practice properly.

Even still, what proof is there, what Buddha was to have said, was actually said. Buddhist preaching were never written down at the time of the Buddha. Buddhists text were first said to be written down about 400 years after the death of Buddha. Prior to that, doctrines were passed down orally, from generation to generation. And like Chinese Whispers, the doctrines would have changed completely by the time the texts were finally written down. The best religion to me is humanity, to be a good decent human being. Something badly missing in this country. And that’s what the crux of any religion is, which has been distorted by time. More so, in this narrow minded country where a falsified Buddhism is held with high regard.

The irony of it all. In my late 20’s whilst living in England, I was so much more into Buddhism (without ever looking down on any other religion), that practically every Sunday, if possible, I’d go to a Thai Buddhist Monastery there (which again for Sri Lankan’s is a problem, as that is not supposed to be our kind of Buddhism), to meditate. So in England I was more of a practicing Buddhist, and when I came to Sri Lanka, the hypocrisy of it all here, got me off it. By my 30’s I was more of a Free Thinker than a Buddhist, but I still had respect for the religion I was born into. But just over two years ago, I was being so stressed by cruel Buddhists of this country, that I finally renounced the religion and denounced the practice of it in Sri Lanka. I lost any love I had for this country in my mid-30’s, after having being patient for so long; and finally removed Buddhism and lost all respect for the hypocritical sadistic practices and attitudes of Sri Lankan Buddhism, a few months after I turned 40!!!!! In fact, I had gone through so much pain, that particular day, that I did a kind of personal blog post, that I had never posted before, despite all the stress and depression I’ve gone through most of my life, surviving on my own. See my post Day of Depression from September 2015. The day I finally removed Buddhism!!!!!!

Evil forces of Sri Lankan Buddhism, prevented me from working on this post (as it has been doing for ages anyway, trying to prevent me from Blogging about anything, period); but I persevered. I started working on this over a month ago, but I finally got to finish it today. Hope I’ve manged to make all the necessary points I needed to.

Nuwan Sen n’ Social Issues

 

Photograph-V

On Facebook, I was challenged; on the 1st of November, Year 2017, to post a Black&White picture per day, without posting any people, and no explanations, yet it had to do with my life. This was a 7 day challenge, that ended today. Whilst, the rest of the photographs are pretty self explanatory (to some extent at least), this is a picture, which is very personal, and has to do with my childhood on wards, till date. It does not simply depict my love for Books & Films!!!

So here is an explanation for this picture, I posted on FB, for Day V (i.e. 5th November 2017) :-

So past 4th midnight, I thought of posting something uniquely personal for Day V, of the B/W photography challenge. I started taking out the close near dear reads and views, from my shelves, and set them on my bed. It was already next day, with 9/10ths of a moonlit sky shining above the wet clouds outside. At 00:55 am, 5th morning, I took the snapshot. Yet, ’twas a pity, I won’t be able to explain it. But today morning, after posting the last picture of the challenge, I went back to this. And decided, I can’t explain it on FB, but I have a Blog, where I can.

So the picture; let us start with Audrey Hepburn. So, as many of my fellow bloggers and close friends are aware, that Hepburn happens to be my all time favourite actress. I’ve been a fan of hers since I watched My Fair Lady (1964), as a little kid, back in the mid-1980’s. I wanted to grow up and marry her, and remember asking my mum, how old Hepburn was (of course I realized Audrey Hepburn was somewhat older than me, but what I didn’t realize at the time was that this musical, set during the Edwardian era, was made long before I came into existence). Anyway, Audrey Hepburn starred alongside the suave gentleman, Gregory Peck, in ROMAN HOLIDAY (1953), which happens to be my all time favourite movie. I watched this in the summer of 1994, just before my 19th Birthday, whilst living in New Delhi, India. Plus, 1994 was the best year of my teenage life (coming of age in Shit Lanka was a nightmare, so it was a refreshing change to go back to India in 94′, after a hellish six year stay in monstrous Lanka. And now am back, going through a lot of stress due to being stuck in a narrow minded extremist country like Shit Lanka. Been here for just over eight years now. Getting anything done in SL is a hassle, including trying to work on this simple blog-post without unnecessary disturbances and distractions). Anyway, even though a fan of Hepburn since childhood, it was once I watched ROMAN HOLIDAY, I truly fell in love with Hepburn. AND soon both her debut movie; about a Princess walking around the scenic architectural delights of ancient Rome, in modern day Italy, as a commoner, having an accidental fling, a tragic love story set in 24 hours, this B/W tearjerker romance that pulls at your heartstrings; along with Hepburn herself, became my all time favorite movie, and actress, respectively. I was simply smitten by her charmingly naturalistic acting. In 2003, after handing in my final dissertation titled “Marriage on Hitchcock Films: From Rebecca to Marnie”, for my MA in International Cinema, at the University of Luton, Luton, UK; I treated myself to an Audrey Hepburn Box-Set of Video Cassettes, which included my all time favourite, ROMAN HOLIDAY. The cassette cover that can be seen on the picture above.

Having mentioned Hitchcock, many of you know Alfred Hitchcock is my all time favourite director; and that REBECCA (1940) happens to be my favourite Hitchcockian classic. Thus, when I was studying his movies, doing an out and out psychoanalysis of varied character sketches, from his best period of Hollywood movies (his first 25 years in Hollywood) for my final dissertation of 25,000 to 30,000 words; I bought some of his movies, and rented others, in Oslo, Norway (as that’s where I resided, during my final semester, as I had no classes; thus working full time 5½ days a week, and concentrating on my dissertation on Saturday evenings and Sunday the whole day; I was exhausted). The video tape of REBECCA which can be seen above was one of movies I bought. But there is more of a history I share with Hitchcock’s REBECCA. I fell in love with this hauntingly magnificent tale of woman living under the shadow of her husband’s dead first wife; when I first saw it as a kid, in the mid-80’s. So this most probably was my all time favourite, till I watched ROMAN HOLIDAY, almost a decade later. Around that time, at school, The British School, in New Delhi, India, we had to write a film review. REBECCA being fresh in my mind, I remember writing my very first film review, on this noirish perfection by Alfred Hitchcock, aged 11; whilst I was in Senior-I. Later, aged 12½/13, I read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (on which the Hitchcockian masterpiece was based on). And this so called women’s book, my very first piece of Adult Fiction, instantly became my all time favourite novel, and it remained no.1 till aged 20, I read the English translation of CITY OF JOY, a French novel by Dominique Lapierre. I bought the book of CITY OF JOY (pictured above) in 1994, though I read it later. And from the age of 20, till now (I’m 42 now), it has remained my favourite novel. BUT, am currently reading Arundhati Roy’s latest novel, THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS (pictured above as well), since I located it at the end of August 2017 (yup, am a very slow reader; and it’s not like I get to read my book every single day); and THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS seems to be fast becoming my all time favourite. That I’ll know for sure, once I finish reading it.

From Novels, to non-fiction; FREEDOM’S DAUGHTER: LETTERS BETWEEN INDIRA GANDHI AND JAWAHARLAL NEHRU 1922-1939 (also pictured above), edited by Sonia Gandhi; happens to be my favourite text of non-fiction; which I read in my mid-20’s. When it comes to print media, there seems to be a major Indian connection. It’s just a mere coincidence. But still, even though with unfortunate Sri Lankan roots, that constantly try to pull me down into the mud with them, I was born and brought up in New Delhi, India. And I had a pretty good childhood (maybe not necessarily a great one, as I was badly bullied in school, it was still better, than when we ventured south into an inhumane and war torn island). Thus having such a strong Indian connection (altogether spent 17 years of my life in New Delhi, 12½ years in row); and a soft corner for my Birth city; plus being a movie maniac; I cannot, not add, my favourites in films, to do with India. My favourite Indian movie, is a Bengali/English bilingual Art House Movie, from the state of West Bengal, directed by Aparna Sen. I bought the DVD of THE JAPANESE WIFE (2010), which can be seen above, along with Kunal Basu’s book of Short Stories (one of which happens to be the basis of this movie), when I visited New Delhi in November/December 2010, on holiday. This was a holiday I took to India, after a break of 9½  years. Aged 35, I thoroughly enjoyed the short story, of The Japanese Wife, as well as the movie. Having watched Indian films throughout my life (especially Bollywood movies, though I happen to be a bit of an Art House snob), it’s amazing how Aparna Sen’s cinematic adaptation of THE JAPANESE WIFE, ended up becoming my favourite Indian movie ever. But having been brought up on Bollywood commercial cinema, I cannot not point out my favourite commercial Hindi Film, from Bombay (now Mumbai) from the state of Maharashtra, India. Mahesh Bhatt‘s ARTH (1982), the DVD of which can be seen above as well. ARTH; which I actually first saw as a kid, and few times later; is a reel life adaptation based on Mahesh Bhatt‘s real life extramarital affair with actress Parveen Babi, who suffered from schizophrenia. A tragic beautiful mind, that soon left the film industry once her illness was out in the open, thanks to this excellently made movie. died under mysterious circumstances, in 2005 (see my post related to her Death Anniversary from January 2013).

Speaking of extramarital affairs and coming back to short stories, I read Anton Chekhov’s THE LADY WITH THE DOG (pictured above), an adulterous love story, when I was 15. This Russian romantic short, happens to be my all time favourite short story, till date (du Maurier’s The Apple Tree, comes a close second). My favourite novella (a text too small to be a novel, yet way too long to be considered a short story), happens to be Truman Capote’s BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (pictured above as well); which I bought, and read, in 2009, whilst living in the most beautiful city in the world, Paris, France. Fell in love with this beautifully written piece of prose, a quick read (Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, happens to be next favourite novella, and I love Kubrick’s surreal adaptation, from 1971, of the book, as well). The movie version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), which also happens to be among my favourite films, directed by Blake Edwards, also stars my all time favourite actress, Audrey Hepburn.

So, I’ve come a full circle, from Hepburn to Hepburn!!!! Almost like a of .


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Bookish Nuwan (NS)