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: Kaatru Veliyidai

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

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-313: Narration, not just at the beginning but right through, in fact why show visuals, audio book release karo yaar.

Thiruvalluvar in his seminal work ‘On seeing movies in multiplexes’ has listed down the two things that are major deterrents to a favorable experience.

  1. Narration
  2. Screaming kids

Of course you cannot do anything about the second thing.

-100: Movie is dedicated to the soldiers of the Kargil war, but the setting doesn’t really seem to warrant such a dedication, most of the film is like a ‘come to kashmir, this summer’ kind-of tourism video

+22: Srinagar

+5: There are so many (numerous) tamil doctors in Srinagar that you can actually hold the next Solomon Pappaiah pattimandram* there

-22: Shot in Ooty, but director believes that we will believe it is Srinagar. Some people do.

+35: Everybody is beautiful, even in Srinagar hospital critical care unit. Life is beautiful.

+67: Pakistan as a therapeutic place, if their tourism department sees this then they actually come up with a campaign.

Sample: Rawalpindi Prison: where u can think in peace about your sins. water+food included in package

-5: to us, why are we going around this tourism board angle again now?

-50: For a film set in the midst of a conflict there is absolutely no tension, so why set in conflict?

The recently released Malayalam film Take Off is set in 2014 during the ISIS raid of Iraq and captures the period to unbelievable levels of excitement. Not comparing, just saying.

+21: Karthi for doing a role that is completely unlike what he has done till now, kudos and learns some lessons in the end.

+8.5: I smell the national awards that is going to be won for cinematography and production design esp the sarattu vandiyile sequence

-1: But how everyone knows the same dance steps yaar? Of course others would have prepared for Sangeet, but Rao Hydari and Karthi just came for wedding like few minutes ago.

-3: Now everyone will start celebrating holi along with their weddings.

-94.56: Dialogue

Sample

Venum…Nee Venum…Eppovume Nee Venum…..Enakku eppovume nee venum

Translation: Want….Want you…..Always Want You…..I Always Want you

…. here indicates one minute time gap

Audience Sample

Podhum…Idhu Podhum….please idhu podhum

Translation: Enough….this is enough….please this is enough

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+11: yeoman service rendered by Mani Ratnam heroines to red cross medical camps across the country needs to be recognized

-34.98: Absolutely no point of having supporting characters, this is a big worry, why use so many actors and don’t give them anything to work with?

-92.7: RJ Balaji as the silent but well meaning creep, he looks like the guy who has enrolled in French literature special class so that few more people will accept him. Bring back the share auto RJB #We are waiting. Also he is the 147th Tamil doctor in attendance in the Kashmir Valley

+5:  No bactrian camels were harmed in the making of this magnum opus type of disclaimer we expected, also is this the pioneering tamil film that is the first to use bactrian camels? Wow hat’s off, sir

-50: Director thinks Pakistan-Afghanistan border is like Perungudi toll gate.

41: Director thinks Pakistani army will not check the pockets of those whom they capture

-107: Music director thinks anything can be background music and hence music neither memorable on its own, nor does it help the situation also

Love is supreme and all that, even in abusive relationships. 

“I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry”

Damn it, where is the scene where Karthi shouts, “Kaatru veliyidai kannammaaaaa!!!” We went to watch the film for that one second. Damn it.

This is answer to a long held fanboy fantasy question, “What if Mani Ratnam made a Gautam Vasudev Menon film” in-spite of our repeated reminders to fans that both were similar, they went and made the movie anyway.

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All the best. Jugni O.

Subam.

All numbers are arbitrary and irrelevant. FRS is a certified superficial venture.

FRS Team

The true story of a real fake

Too young to write a memoir, but this is too big an opportunity to miss out on writing on my history with quizzing. Unlike other notes, this is not a review of the film Brahman Naman which seems to have inspired this spree of quiz posts.

I started quizzing in middle school, not for some puritanical quest for knowledge but because my immediate friends were into it, but i had been a reader of fiction and a consumer of movies long before this, these still remain my core areas of interest.

Enough about me, quizzing is about answering a question; to be precise it is the feeling of answering a question.

Let me try and put that to paper: connection.

Yes, some sort of connection that a quiz master somewhere from someplace has asked something that you know, and when you are sitting as a team, when you have one piece of a jigsaw puzzle and your team mate has another and when it fits and you arrive at an answer, there is an instant connection: two streams of thought coming together to form another. These connections are multi-fold when you are working out multi-level connects and over-arching theme questions. It is something close to magic.

Or so I thought.

Around 2010, I started noticing issues, maybe I had been blind to them before: people were talking about ‘competencies’ and when that happens there is always an issue. I had very limited competencies and these hardly amounted to anything when you do an analysis of questions asked in quizzes and I was becoming a liability.

At one point in late undergraduate times, I was only identified with the questions I could answer: “india-ent”

It is not that I did not try, I too like an enthusiast started reading about things I did not have any interest about and managed to answer few questions as well. But I started to feel like a number one fake. Here began my life as a fake.

Meanwhile, quiz presentation circulation was just becoming a lucrative thing and it was only a matter of speed on the stage, a question of recollection from which slide, which city and which round, this question was recycled. If you had the memory, you had the mileage. There was no time to enjoy the feeling of answering a question.

But I did not stop. I went on to fake.

It did not feel organic, at least till then I had assumed that the ‘knowledge’ I had got was mine, the one for which I had been a seeker. This seemed heavily forced. You might argue ‘All Knowledge is Knowledge” but then it was not ‘my knowledge’ and ‘this knowledge’ I had gobbled up in anticipation so that I can spit it out during a quiz.

Quizzing was becoming more like engineering.

I did not enjoy it anymore, except for the few Tamil movie questions that would come up once in 50 quizzes. After a point when team mates were not exactly friends, and after years of just going through the motions I was convinced I should rid myself of this fake life, there was no point in it for me.

Or so I thought. (Part II)

In 2014, when I applied for the various collegiate committees in my B School, I applied for the quiz committee and not surprisingly got in as well. This is primarily because I was not ‘good’ in anything else and the next two years were spent in trying to get more college people into quizzing when I was trying to run away from it. Irony no?

But now I’m sure that I would not have fit in any other committee as well and this time I found some love in organizing a mega event and ask questions to those who had never been to quiz before.

Did they find pleasure in answering my questions, I would like to think they did.

But all this doesn’t discount the fact that I was a fake. A big one at that.

Answering questions in a quiz gives, I think an illusion of knowledge, you needn’t have a read a book or seen a movie or heard a song to answer a quiz question. And by answering a question about something you know nothing about, made me believe that I knew something about it.

Nopes, I didn’t know anything.

Partly I blame myself, for thinking that pursuing quizzing as the pursuit of knowledge itself. Quizzing is not knowledge, it is incidental in the pursuit of it, in fact it is even unnecessary, it is just another test which doesn’t prove anything. One can ‘crack’ a 40-slide theme of Poirot novels without reading any one of them.

It is possible, but for what joy, so that someone might clap for you. But that joy is nothing when compared to one achieved while reading a Poirot novel.

Dammit, why a Poirot novel, it could be anything. Anything that provides joy by itself is worth pursuing for that sake alone, if the pursuit involves the reactions of others it is absolute fakery (no such word, vocabulary score is 150).

Even if quizzing is a starting point for many new things (read as knowledge), I wish to take these things slowly, and nature I’m sure, will find opportune moments to teach me these things; gradually.

Knowledge does not reside in the hurry-mug before Landmark, nor in the ppts of quizzes I have never attended, even if there is some knowledge there, I don’t want it.

My life does not depend on how different figure skating is from ballet dancing.

On the issues plaguing quizzing and its clubs, much has already been written and I want this post to be about me and my fakery.

I don’t actively quiz anymore, my quizzing is restricted to a select few friends, we laugh around a lot more than we quiz, in fact quiz becomes secondary there, they also put up with my nonsense and the times we meet are like one WhatsApp group on fire.

During my de-quizzisation (no such word) I have seen many people who passively pursue their interests without having to put it on a stage. Men and women who have made significant improvements to themselves and to others by doing so and not aspiring a stage, or a clap or a pounce and bounce.

Whatever.

I have won quizzes before, quite some in college but never managed to qualify for a big ticket open quiz ever, so consider me like a minor Jake La Motta, an admirable failure.

Could I have been somebody?

Hehe. No, not in Quizzing.

I realised that I was a failure and in many ways fooling myself with delusions of knowledge. I cannot do much about being a failure, but I have decided not be a fake.