Parking Lot Notes: Thupparivaalan

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It begins with the light of a matchstick, an aide in a search or the dispeller of darkness.

That is what essentially a detective story is about; the search for answers and the journey into the unknown.

The detective, our guide or sometimes a co-traveller.

While the opening statement might seem grandiose, this was the first thing that struck (like that match) while watching Mysskin’s Thupparivalan. A detective also fits the mould of the director’s heroes who are seekers.

Fitment is also found in the casting of Vishal (also the producer) as the tall, loner with a bent towards the martial arts as Kaniyan, the detective of the film, but movie making is not just casting.

Thinking through the course of the movie (which the movie allows you to do once you catch it by the flow,which would not be tough if you had been living with a steady supply of detective novels) made me wonder why there was something missing in this homage to the creations of Conan Doyle.

Everything seems to be in place, which by itself is a cause of worry.

While Kaniyan’s room looks like it has been vacated by the BBC and not a living room that would suit the city in which this movie is set, the detective and his trusted sidekick seem to advertising for Indian Terrain in the meanwhile.

I dwell on these extraneous factors only because the characters are flat, whether this is a conscious decision is something best left to the maker.

A character being flat in a film, which more or less depends on the interest created by that lead character, is what I deduct to be the problem.  Especially when your lead is a character that is a shade of the great detective (Sherlock, as we speak is one of the most assumed characters on the screen).

Great ‘Holmes’ of the past have been played by dramatic actors, this would include Jeremy Brett who made the role his own, portrayals since have been either variations of what Brett did or to do what Brett did not do and hence stand out.

The eccentric nature of the Holmes-ian character cries out loud for an expressive actor who can control his/her expressions, which is why I insisted on the word ‘dramatic’; that was the big miss and thus bringing down the levels of excitement.

Sensation and excitement are two keys to the same room in a detective story; Thupparivalan on the other hand is locked in another room filled with Mysskian tick-tock henchmen, beautiful pick pockets and a climax that would reiterate that we already have the best locales for filming. It could be great cinema, but is it engaging?

The Sherlock Holmes homage pool is an ever-deepening one and whether Thupparivalan enriches this pool is something that needs to be seen, but for Tamil Cinema we now have a mainstream detective and I have Arrol Corelli’s teaser music on loop.

 

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FRS: Vivegam

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So we all know what an FRS is right? right?

-100: To us, we haven’t changed this boring intro, even with 14 writers on our payroll the fact that we can’t write a decent opening, shows the levels at which incompetence has seeped into the Laureate.<SHAME>

+5: Movie has no narration, a virtue especially when the last film we saw was Taramani.

-5: Whenever minor character says that they have x levels of security means mega security failure will happen within x minutes (Mega Security Mazhuppal Rule)

+30: Two eastern European uncles have been cast in such a way that just by looking at them you will know that they are villains, one has cigar also

-51.25: When confronted by assassin, victims will state their name, age occupation, designation and aadhar number(liberals no need to provide) so as to make life easier for the assassin.

Assassin is of course our AK

+21: hero’s name is AK!! hero’s character name is also AK!! how cool is that, i mean how inventive #AK25.

+101: How the movies have changed, like actors used to ‘play’ characters like villain, spy, doctor, minister etc; but in Vivegam it is what critics will call ‘turning-genre-by-the-head’

Wait buddies, we will explain.

Like Vivegam is not a story about a spy, it is about Ajith Kumar (AK) if he had chosen to become a spy instead of an actor. Yes that is the story.
+34: Writer-Director has embarked on toughest task of making every dialogue that AK speaks as punch dialogue.

Even when AK asks for sugar it is so menacing that you will not let children go near AK. More about children later
-54: Story? LOL what story?

-129.07: Messaging: Like this is not a movie this is AK’s personal videos to his fans,

+21: Serbians are not going to like this film

+50: AK’s super power is that no bullet will hit him unless he wills it himself, much like Mahabharatam Bheeshmar.

+112.33: When facing an entire army, always look at the camera and speak with optimism in tamil, this itself will confuse them. (AK’s escapism rule)

-34.5: As expected, dutiful AK will have cute family life

-11: GVM school of non-ordinary heroine naming, here it is Yazhnini, and of course she is a carnatic music teacher in inteeerior Serbia.

Hi to Cleveland Thyagaraj+ Death Metal Thangaraj

Oh wait, they also run cute tamil organic food restaurant which is popular among the locals. <Yeppa Dei Nativity>

-379: However cute, children must not be allowed in cooking area, safety reasons.

-150: Cute children

-29: As usual, hero looking at heroine playing with rain drops scene, hence love shot

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Pokkiri Pongal and all ok, have you seen Serbian Pongal? #Internaaational

+17: Yazhini is so the dutiful wife that even Valluvar’s Vasuki will have to take morning tuition from her.

-600: AK-Yaazhini level ideal couple pressures will seep into real life for couples after seeing the film.

Not ruling out divorce based on this pressure.

-89.12: Anti-Terror Squad head-office looks like one IT company with reception and all, I think they might have pre-sales division also, if free please put out JD at naukri boys!

+109: As expected head of Anti-Terror Squad is played by one person who will believe whatever people will say

+45: Hobbies: apart from being a top class spy, killer, assassin, strategist, husband, organic food chain owner AK is also a New York Times best-selling author

-300: War as photo-op: no seriously if you are army uncle in Serbia you will have lot of time to stand on tanks, do circumambulation to fighter jet, go to picnic, take and remove sun-glasses.

Yes, in slow motion.

-6.7K: Everyone talks about AK, every single character will talk about AK in the film, AK also talks about AK.

+23: Director believes hackers can do anything in life. ANYTHING

-56: If you are low ranking/new recruit in the espionage business you will be treated as a comedy piece (Arumaiprakagasam)

+902: Main Job of main villain is not to break the world into pieces but to praise AK, second job of main villain is to take over the world.

+15: Dei, in this movie everything is one hologram, even things you can do in simple PPT these villains will show in hologram.

Yeppa sci-tech-death

+15: Level of data analytics is MAX. eg: villain will shout: find the total number of running trains in Serbia, in that how many people are watching hot star in that how many people are eating lays chips type questions and his data team will give the answer within seconds.

Add to this, you will see 456 types of tracking and hacking #scitechdeath

We asked our data analytics team in Pune a simple question, how many people visit our blog nu. Still these fellows are giving reports.

 

-433: For our data analytics team

AK does data analytics in his mind only, so he does not need team.

+9: Phoenix paravai!

-213: Mind numbing mind games AK and villain will play for three hours, at this point we shouted “VARENNNN MAAAA!” into our phones and recorded the same for future use

Also all fights become tiring because anyhow you know that AK is phoenix paravai and nothing will happen to him.

-0.98: Analysts are telling that running time of the movie increased…..because….of….the….way…..AK…………spoke………………the……….dialogues……..given to…….him…..

-75: Spy uncles think that shutting down satellites is like switching off fan while leaving classroom

+101: Carnatic-mixed-martial arts based climax fight. One of its kind in Indian cinema.

AK’s T shirt rule: quality of t shirt will deteriorate towards the end of the movie so that it can be torn to reveal torso

Yes they have promised sequel and all.

Till then….

NEVER.EVER.GIVE.UP.

 

Subham/Ungal Naam

The FRS Team

Vanakkam

 

 

Out of The Past: Farewell, My Lovely (1975)

 

FML6 copyI have concluded that reading Raymond Chandler at an impressionable age has contributed the most to my further life choices, be it ‘literature’, movies, terse sentences and of course typing in the ‘courier new’ font.

Chandler started writing when the oil industry crashed and he had nothing much left to do, his creation reflects himself; being weary is his core competence.

If I could go back and play the irritating game invented for social engagement, ‘describe your creation in just one word’, Chandler would have said “tired”. If he was kind, he would add, “I’m tired. Enough!” As always breaking the rules.

So when there is a delay in our usual blog posts, it is probably because we are generally tired. Tired of ourselves, tired of the world, tired and yet careful not to add the growing empty mass that is film writing.  Readers must be thankful in that case.

We forgot to add one word to the above: growing boring empty mass that is film writing.

Boring.

 

 “You’re a very good-looking man to be in this kinda business”

Enter Robert Mitchum

Marlowe is supposed to be in his mid-thirties in the works, curiously but not unnatural the best portrayals of the private eye has come from very old ‘has-seen-it-all’ men.

Bogart was in his forties and Robert Mitchum almost touching sixty, it’s that kind of a role. It requires that kind of experience, it is the ‘hamlet’ of all detective roles, no I’m not joking. A sequel to the Big Sleep was called ‘Perchance to Dream’ which is from the famous of all famous soliloquies.

People and war have made our hero tired, and out of this tiredness comes sparkling wisdom.

Why does Marlowe still do it?

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For the much quoted “25 dollars a day plus expenses?”

Nah, Marlowe doesn’t snoop around for money, but he doesn’t evoke moral mightiness too, he certainly doesn’t identify with a cause or putting criminal behind bars. Thankfully he is not insufferable with his ‘genius’ and actually very funny, like a real person.

I guess he just likes looking at people and what they do.

Looking brings us to Robert Mitchum, in many ways the spiritual remnant of Bogart’s distant masculinity, but looking at Mitchum’s eyes we know that this present sadness had once seen sparkle, that alone makes me feel that Mitchum is truer as Marlowe.

Marlowe watches because he knows that deep down all the depravity there is some tenderness, that’s all he looks for in a client, not money, not name, not fame. And he will do anything to look at that tiny true part of yourself.

Evil doesn’t startle him as much as innocence and goodness

People first, plot go to hell

 

For Chandler, the plot was secondary, the characters weren’t, he would never describe anyone unfairly nor would he puncture them for the sake of plot.

An open opponent of this whole locked room plotting business made him see people as people and not as clues or alibi to get going to the next page.

Marlowe is the same wise-ass to the police as he is to the crooks. An ending in a Chandler story is not its logical conclusion or hurrah for its hero, but the acceptance of reality.

The thread of Farewell My Lovely the film is very simple and it follows the book closely, just out of jail thug Moose Malloy wants to get his girl back. Will Marlowe do it or not?

And the hits keep on coming

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Marlowe is always narrating his tale, when we meet him he is just out of a case, naturally tired; Mitchum looks like he just wants to go home but cannot when confronted by his innocent of a thug client.

Within moments Marlowe becomes the centre-piece of a worm caught in a web, and all he does is just give a sideward glance.

Very easy to be dismissed as non-acting, especially in the age that we live in (as in the golden age of non-acting); but I think tiredness is difficult to bring out as an emotion without being dramatic.

Mitchum gets hit on the head, shot at, danced with, seduced by, but all through the film but he plays it like a detective who knows the ending every single time, people will be people.

I don’t really care about the twist in the end

There is a twist in the end, but the film (naturally the novel) is not moving towards it a big reveal way, for fans of detective fiction and crime thrillers this could prove dampening.

Many things happen and so does a twist.

Detection truly could be one of the most boring jobs if not for the humongous amounts of exciting literature written about it.

<pause for reflection>

Maybe all jobs are boring or it is the nature of them to become boring. But somehow Marlowe and hence Mitchum(because of his ability to understand the character) seem to have cracked it.

This detective is a seeker of the intangible, something remote and indescribable as human kindness, that is his spiritual quest, something not even the thighs of a femme fatale or the muzzle of a gun could distract him from.

Hamlet of the detective class, indeed.

That’s an admirable state to be in and this is an admirable movie.

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Out of the past is our series on movies that are anything but current,new,fresh etc; we find the idea of film writing just for the sake of a movie release distressing and also it demeans the timelessness of film itself. Mad or what, we won’t be reviewing old films,just writing about them.