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.

 

 

 

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FRS: The Mummy

 

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So, we all know what FRS is right? Right?

Vacation’s over boys!

-101: Narration, even if it is in Russel Crowe’s voice also cheating-like. Because narration brings in a point of view but the rest of the film doesn’t even acknowledge that. What’s this da big holly.

-23: Tired Russel Crowe is extremely tired, maybe it is his character, maybe it is us. We are extremely troubled when our favourite actors land such roles. Taking this opportunity to welcome Kamal Haasan to Big Boss. Hi.

+25: Speaking of favourite actors: Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

A word on Cruise, let’s give the critics the benefit of the doubt, he does play the same character in every film, which of course is ‘pop criticism’, but we have a feels that Cruise knows what he is doing because at 50+, he was able to bring out something as exciting as Rogue Nation.

There is no actual rule that a screenplay should not lend itself to its larger than life lead actor, in fact it requires some really smart writing.

Boys and Cruise is among the last of the old world Hollywood type movie stars da, like that only.

-50: Speaking of smart writing, Tom Cruise being chased by a 5000-year-old Mummy who thinks he is her chosen one, like really this is the Nagesh arc from Utharavu Indri Ulle Vaa

+22: These ancient Egyptians are very specific in their rituals, so elaborate

-100: Elaborate Egyptian rituals can be interrupted

-343: Movie rests entirely on the above point

-5: Bossugal of Egypt think that Mummifying is the worst of punishments not realising that it is the most favourable situation for Hollywood Bossugal

+6: Hero does not say the useless overused line “I hate mummies” in this franchise

-21: Hero thinks stealing and protecting artefacts are the same, although he is not Indiana Jones. Hero does not belong in a museum

+23: Bug-Calling: the pioneering tech to communicate in Antman seems like walkie-talkie because The Mummy can do all that without tech only.

+56: Over-powerful Mummy is over-powerful.

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It’s like unbeatable Mummy meets (Mission) Impossible Cruise

+5: We actually came up with the above line

FRS Rule of Thumb: Whenever main villain is captured and put on full display, you can bet your house in Adayar and that estate in Conoor that villain will surely escape.

-3: Conoor

-1: Adayar

-192: Hero sleeps with heroine as mark of love, this is mentioned multiple times in the film but never actually shown. Boss, why do you think we watch English films in the first place (dubbed also same). Please convey to concerned department.

-76: American hero saying “What the hell” when they don’t know what is happening

 

+50: Very good to decent (we give range, for specific data we are not one IBM) action sequences, I mean you don’t really care about Mummies getting hit left right and centre, but it is fun and funny, there is even a Raiders type fight in the lorry.

-10: American archaeologists immediately get into, “what we have here is a 2000-year-old artefact” kind of voice recording which works ok as exposition, but second and third time it is like over professional, boring even

+101: Hero’s friend: yeah yeah he is funny, but then also (no spoilers) LOL this is one of the films where they give a twist to the companion character and much welcome change this is.

 

+5 Tom Cruise running away from things

From a strategic career point of view, I hope he runs away from what this franchise will become, oh wait, there is more. Strike that out.

-35.9: This concept of power, like u were first Pharaoh of one region, suddenly you want to rule whole world. Why? All your IAS officers are doing so well?

Also if you are princess of Egypt, high chance you will not inherit throne, not unlike modern times. Someone said history repeats itself, someone was right.

So, if we keep repeating this statement (which is ‘history repeats itself’) then we will be proving that person right. Right?

+22: Double Pupils

-208.112: Actually, we had decided in one FRS board meeting that we should not cut points for lack of originality, or lack of ideas or something along these lines. Because we believe that very few can come up with something new, see like this FRS itself is one modified (read as copy) format, but this and all if we see…Nevermind.

But still when you have the wealth of content with you (some 300 Universal monsters) … Hollywood Bossugal must revisit this whole franchise funding.

tenor

Oh before we go, there is no Rachel Weisz in this thing, we have no idea how many points we should cut for that alone.

 

Yours Sincerely

THE FRS Team

A LhF Production

Subam

Vanakkam

Anbe Sivam: What sort of design is this?

Something that I have observed during the course of this ongoing education called movie watching is that when characters are faced with loss or suffering or even an unattainable dream eventually tend to receive it in some form.

This as I see it, is to bring about balance to the character, the way in which this cycle happens can be as direct as a revenge drama or something as poetic and long drawn as Gollum losing it before the lord of the rings begins, only to hold it again in his last moments at the very end. 

It here refers to the one ring of course.

(My god what a precious arc!)

If there is loss, there is gain; unless we are watching some harrowing tragedy. Which is a different topic altogether

 

This loss and gain, of course I assumed was a part and parcel of story writing and very noticeable, and this can happen to supporting characters as well and when done well, resonates.

Let us now come to Anbe Sivam, one of the few things we know about ad filmmaker Anbarasu is that he is currently in love and had lost his brother earlier in a cricketing accident; this at face value seems like a backstory to explain his nervousness around bloodshed; the fact that a character has lost his brother and is now almost about to get a new brother didn’t strike me till today.

 (Slow mind eh)

Waitees, but Anbarasu doesn’t get a brother back!

His loss is not actually balanced, he almost gets a brother back. Difference, small yet key to this post.

Waitees again, we are still with Anbarasu; there is again a disturbance at balance. 

An unknown kid caught in a horrendous train accident and fortunately shares the same blood group as Anbu; the blood is obviously the connect here since Anbu’s brother’s bloody death was in many ways the biggest loss that Madhavan’s character has faced (or at least this is what the movie tells us)

In a usual film of course this would have been the balancing point, matching blood groups and saving the kid which will make Anbarasu overcome his fear and grow for the later part of the film.

Waitees, but Anbarasu does grow and become a different person through the course of the story but the outcome of these almost balancing points are exactly the opposite of the usual.
Nalla (Kamal) doesn’t stay and fill the void of a fallen brother nor is Anbu’s blood enough to save a boy’s life.

Summary: so you have a structure or a road-map , you almost reach the end but then turn the other way; this I see it as a way to introduce some amount of randomness, even if controlled into the story.

A point where the screen writer knows what should be done next if the film is to take its usual course, but doesn’t (want?) do it.

 I imagine at these balancing points, the writer putting down his hand on the table, hoping the pen would somehow write down the next few words.

It is amazing. Really.

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I guess that this didn’t strike me on previous viewings because I was not looking for it and of course there are other very fulfilling  themes in Anbe Sivam which is why it has endured for me.

Small addition to this ‘aberration’ from usual is the name of Poun, which here denotes two characters, one of course is the street theater artist  who dies in the bus accident which also disables Kamal, and also the aforementioned small kid who mumbles the same name.

Again the lead comes close, but doesn’t quite make it.

Doesn’t quite get what he is wanting.

Important to note that Anbe Sivam is not a tragedy.

While loss is not balanced by gain, loss by itself is not tragic, whenever a character in Anbe Sivam gives away or loses something it feels heroic and it feels real because there is no return of this ‘giving away’ much like in real life.

Real life doesn’t have the comfort of a writer’s balance. Real life is really random but filled with common folk out there making choices beyond their imagination.

Maybe the film is about giving after all.How else would we experience Anbu?

Maybe, we are just over-reading as usual, let us know what you think.