Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Nights are dark, right?" said a pilley. Joker said "And i thought my Jokes were bad"

Thats right. Stop...

What follows is a complete dissection and study of the Dark knight. So no soft warnings as to spoilers/plot give-aways ahead. I expect you to have seen the movie before you proceed to read this post. If you havent done so, do close the window and make an attempt at watching it. 

Now the eligible ones can proceed...

Once in a while, you come across movies which make a lasting impression on your mind. Movies which you can proudly say to the future generations,” I saw this n times you know(twinkle in the eyes). The craze it created…. You should have been there to witness it”. Dark Knight is one such movie. 

After wiping off sweat from my brows caused by the “i-don’t-give-two-hoots-to-my-life” attitude displayed by Bangaloreans on the roads (this while driving back home from Fun cinemas), i settled down for a dissertation on The Dark Knight (for no degree sadly).

The movie starts off with a heist orchestrated by the Joker and we see his arrival with a bang really.( As each of them go down with a bang :D ). The joker stands alone and answers to the query, "what to do you believe in?", with this ” I believe that whatever doesn’t kill you, simply makes you… STRANGER… ” 

And this sets the pace for more such pearls of wisdom from the man himself.

Heath Ledger fascinated me right from the start, with his effortless portrayal of Joker. It’s a psychotic, scary (yet at times funny) character that he had to portray, (unlike his predecessors) which he has fulfilled to perfection. His jokes are laughable given ordinary circumstances but in the sinister scenario that it unfolds, you shiver. Case in point, the scene where Joker dressed up as a nurse says “Hi” to Dent. Brrrrr….

 (to borrow Alfred’s words on Joker) 
“Some men aren't looking for anything logical like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to WATCH THE WORLD BURN.”

Some memorable quotes by The Joker:
• You know the thing about chaos? It's fair

• Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too quick. You can't savor all of the…little…emotions. You see, in their…last moments, people show you who they really are. So in a way…I knew your friends better than you ever did. [pause] Would you like to know which of them were cowards?

• This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.

• Madness, as you know, is like gravity…all it takes is a little push!

• [to batman] You won't kill me because of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won't kill you because…you're just too much fun! I think you and I are destined to do this forever.

• You know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan"…even if the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow I told the press that, like, a gang-banger will get shot, or a truck load of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all part of the plan. But when I say that one little old mayor will die…[voice rises hysterically] well, then everyone loses their minds!

• Introduce a little anarchy…upset the established order…and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos.

He seeks the best of Gotham city, its true legitimate hero and by bringing him down, he wants to shatter the hopes of the citizens who believed in everything good and hoped for the victory of good over evil.

Aaron Eckhart as Harvey dent is another example of perfect casting. He fits the bill as a robust lawyer fighting to clean the streets of gotham, a character who makes his own luck (with the two-headed coin :) ), he is the legitimate hero of the city. Later as the transformed Two-face, (following the loss of Rachel) he stops believing in morals and leaves everything to chance. In his own words:

“You thought we could be decent men in an indecent time…but you were wrong! The world is cruel. And the only morality in a cruel world is chance. Unbiased, unprejudiced, fair…”

The joker tests Batman, Gordon and Dent in his quest to bring the best of them down. Batman fails, when he refuses to reveal himself; which leads to the loss of innocent lives. Gordon fails, when he does nothing to combat the rampant corruption in the police force, which also leads to the unfortunate death of Rachel Dawes and the destruction of Harvey dent. Both the kidnappings being orchestrated by the mafia and deftly carried out by the very cops that Gordon believed in . Dent survives the test, as he goes to the extent  of acknowledging that he is the Batman,  for the safety of Gotham citizens. The joker is now after Dent, not Batman. 

Regarding the death of Dent there has been voices along the lines of “phooey, why does Nolan take such an effort to show the dent-two face(a prominent villain in the comic series) transformation and then kill him within 45 min?”

Answer: You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

Two-Face according to Nolan isn’t Two-face according to Batman comics. His death and the subsequent Dark knightification* of Batman enables people to still have faith in him(Dent) and what he stood for. Thus in a way defeating what the Joker strived hard to do. 

“This city just showed you that it's full of people ready to believe in good” says batman to Joker when his plans to detonate the two cruises, fail. 

What a fantastic sequence that is. Two cruises, one containing the law abiders and the other containing the most wanted criminals. Each asked to blow the other up. The frustration, introspection and dilemma faced by the passengers is brilliantly shot. None of them want their hands dirty from detonating the bomb. The audience is on the edge, witnessing the happenings , dying to know what happens next, the time ticks on………..

Among the criminals, one of the nasty looking fellows whom you would have actually believed to press the button, eventually throws it out. On the other end one of the good ones, is actually tempted to press the detonator when at the right time, his morality checks him. One can interpret that the bad ones actually deserve to live, contrary to what one normally excepts. That none of them suffer is a different thing altogether. But they do support what batman said above… 

Alfred Pennyworth played by Michael Caine as the avuncular butler is classy and measured just as it should be. Always the one to provide a shoulder to cry on for Batman. A firm believer in Batman and also in the idea that batman has to take decisions, which may involve sacrifices; but are made with good intentions for Gotham. Very wisely he hides, from a beleaguered batman, the fact that Rachel would have loved to marry Harvey instead of him. Burning of Burmese forests story was so apt in putting the Joker situation to a proper perspective.

Abduction of Lau and the chase of a captive Dent make for some good, edge of the seat action sequences. Both technically difficult, but made to look so easy. Hats off to the technical crew handling photography, CGI and the director himself.

Christopher Nolan has handled the batman franchise in very refreshing and mature manner. Mature in the sense that, he has gone beyond portraying batman as a typical wish-i-could-be-him kinda role with fantastic weaponry and jaw-dropping stunts etc. and has also dealt with moral conflicts that the hero suffers from time to time. The villains and the friends/well wishers too are carefully sketched characters rather than being made as just sidekicks. Each one is as inevitable as the other. The narration is also taut considering the fact that it exceeds 2 hours, which rarely happens in Hollywood.

A mention of the brilliant background music score by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard can’t be forgotten. The music gets into your body, settling into your chest and brings you down to a macabre, dark place**. Fav tracks of mine are Harvey Two-Face, Introduce a Little Anarchy and Why so Serious. Variation of pace as per the plot and brilliant use of instruments are a hallmark of this film’s soundtrack. They never cease to trigger a screening of the movie in my mind’s eye whenever i play it…. Its like being a part of the story and experiencing the emotions yourself.

His movies succeed mainly because it respects the audience. By that I mean, he doesn’t take the audience for granted by dishing out brain dead material. There is lot of attention to detail in all aspects of film making be it editing, background music score, casting, screenplay all of which makes a movie viewer get a wholesome and satisfying experience.

His movies involve the audience. By that I mean, certain parts are left open-ended for the viewer to have his own interpretation. Some parts are unexplained and are taken for granted that the viewer gets it on his own. For ex: We see the various knives of Joker being displayed while he is put into his cell. The hand which examines the knives, picks up the last and does not keep it back. A keen eyed observation will make you realize this. The hand we later came to know, is of the policeman who later gets into, rather pretends to get into, a fisticuff with the Joker. And the Joker victoriously comes out of the cell; placing The knife to his phony friend's throat, demanding a phone call ;) . 

The kidnapping of Dent and Rachel too happens all of a sudden, but we come to know more about it by and by.

Its moments like these which make a dumb viewer like me happy, when I re analyze some aspects of the movie.

The movie succeeds, because it makes the audience to put themselves in the position of various characters and ask themselves as to their reactions given those circumstances. 

All in all it was a great watch and it has a set a new benchmark in handling an existing franchise. This movie has reaffirmed Nolan’s position among the star league of directors…

P.S: Many Thanks to dear friend gaurav (reg no.:1RV07 0-orange-red-brown)***, for having indulged in elaborate discussions with me about the movie and clearing my pilley doubts and also providing his laser sharp insight into the many finer aspects of the plot. 

*dark knightification- "usne kuch nahi kiya(Dent killing officers and other dudes whilst tossing coin), sab kuch maine kiya" by ballebaz (translation mein kripaya 's' akshar ko nikaalein. dhanyavaad ;) ) 

**copy pasted from here   

*** Dont think RV ATNMS has gone bonkers giving resistance color code as reg no. This is simply a prank, as he belongs to EC. Do figure it out :) 

Thursday, August 7, 2008

"#$%^&@* nodkondu oodsu guru"....("*&%$#@!, watch where you are driving...")

Before i begin this post which concerns driving a vehicle, let me seek the divine grace and blessings of his holiness swami boneywasawarriorananda, the omniscient when it comes matters of driving vehicles of 2,3,4....n wheels. My mistake of mentioning the relative motion b/w clutch and accel. in the prev post led to a lot of chiding from his holiness. My sincerest apologies swamiji... ;)

YenPeeEss once said:
"You see there are two kinds of drivers. The perfect ones and the imperfect ones. The former need the latter to really feel they are on the roads. The latter need the former to say to others 'hey at least we make someone proud'. Well they are indispensable to each other, they balance each other, like ying-yang .....(and a Honda activa made an imperfect collision with him)

I was formally inducted to latter's hall of fame last month when i suffered a minor accident. It went like this. I was on my activa traveling somewhere around the speed of 45-46kmph. There were 3 indicas ahead of me in the same straight line. The leader of the pack didn't feel the need at all, to show any sign/signal that he intended to take right turn at the next junction and the stops out of the blue for that purpose. The rest (including me) faithfully crashed in to each like some long last buddies[pile up is the word technically speaking].....

Getting over the excruciating pain of betadine and mercurochrome and the sweet-sour chidings of amma and appa, i did some introspection of the happenings. Non-maintenance of sufficient distance from the car and over speeding( the repair bill of the activa def. hinted at that) were the conclusions.

And all this happened when i had return some documents to the car driving school, for my learner's license. You see i had joined for lessons in car-driving for many reasons. Primary ones emergency situation, the sheer pleasure of it, DL is a great address proof......

In a marriage interview:
Would Be Maava: "what else can the boy do?"
Appa:"well he can drive a car...."
WBM:" very good very good (lord almighty; driver can be fired..... 2 coconuts to you), may we decide on the wedding date?"

Sudarshan, my instructor, was a scraggy, kumkum-in-the-mid-forehead-putting, i-dont-know-when-i-will-explode-kinda and this guy. This was unnerving at first because you except him to flip at any slight mistake while you drive... but as the classes wore on i got adjusted to him. He changed the routes for every class, depending on what i was supposed to learn for the day, so you can imagine his dedication.

'legs on Clutchu-brake while in descent and while encountering obstructions' and 'release the clutch and accelerate simultaneously while changing gears' were among the two things that he used cry himself hoarse with. And the VTU dudess had said that car learning is baaye haath ka khel or something. Well it is so if it is Automatic transmission, otherwise its daaye haath ka khel for the right hander which is very difficult indeed :P. This took a lot of time for my feet to understand, slow learners that they are. They just refused to act as he said, as if they had a mind of their own, so either it would be a sudden release of clutch which would make the car to do a Dhadak-rev act and would invite a "you will ruin this clutch lining by the time this is done" remark from him or a vroooom from the car which would make him say"go easy, dammit". It took a lot of time and i have yet to master it with the gentle Santro Xing of ours. :(

5 classes had passed when dad decided to check out what i had learnt at school. Despite repeated attempts at convincing him otherwise he stuck to his guns. Vokay i said and we went on a short drive. A few hiccups happened initially with the clutch and gears (for i was learning with an old santro which had controls on the other side, which does change clutch length and other crap like that) and i felt this wont turn out be good. But appa was patient as he his with his patients and we continued. And a mishap occured which certainly made the imperfect drivers committee to add a gold frame to my photo in their gallery and a plaque beneath to commemorate my achievements. But in this court of Web 2.0, i will try to justify myself; my honored netizens.

This is the scene of accident, honoured netizens.(pain max to reproduce from MS paint; but i have done my best, do click on the image so as to get a clear picture of it ;) )

index: light blue fat thing -Our xing which is taking the turn.
dark blue lean thing- a to-be-delivered skoda
dark green lean thing- dilapidated scooter
red short fat thing- some stupid car

We were proceeding on the main road honoured netizens when appa told me to take the turn indicated by the lean green arrow. Now since i am at the left most side of the road, it was inevitable that i had to take a wide-ish turn which would result in me being at the center of that road. Now skoda was approaching in his proper lane and before i could avoid him and come to my proper left lane a kirrrk scratch happened to the skoda. I proceeded further to avoid the damn parked scooter and the stupid car and i ended up nudging the scooter.

Your honour, firstly father should not have asked for me to turn in that sharp hair pin turn which was pretty narrow; when he knew that the car is at the helm of a rookie. Secondly, he should have told me earlier about this so that i would have a shifted myself to the right on the main road which would have facilitated a proper entry to the left side of the hair pin. The stupid scooter owner should also know well not to park it on that silly lean road, where there isn't enough place for two large cars to go side by side. It was a split second order by father honouerd netizens and you must understand my predicament. I rest my case. i also propose making that road a one way for for causing no further inconvenience for my fellow rookie drivers. Thank you.....

He took over the car for the journey back home and i felt my confidence melting away in handling a car. Well a few more classes and a comforting advice from sudarshan made me feel a bit better. Slowly but surely i learnt how to handle tough combat situations on roads(which involves freak drivers, fresk pedestrians, freak roads and freak animals) and made myself license worthy.

RTO-West under whose jurisdiction lies RTO rajajinagar had a brain wave one fine day and built a testing track in peenya near the NH-4. Now this is the first and only RTO to have a track as such to test its DL holder wannabes and unlike other RTO tests which involves going round the shopping complex or having the instructor sit beside you controlling the car(Jayanagar dudes are surely lucky), this is really tough. I present to you the famed track.

Note: As you proceed for the bottom to top there is an elevation in the field of 30deg. (say). the inspecting officers are seated at the bottom edge of the pic.

On the 26th of July some 20 members from our driving school collectively left for the track to get our DL. After driving through horrendous traffic on the NH for some 15kms we reached the track at around 10am. Had to wait painfully 2 hours until the other schools finished their turn.

The audience (which included the nail biting drivers and driving school staff) regaled themselves when the others made mistakes while track. "paapa, no license for him", " hey you saw that? dont know why these people come to take test" and remarks to that effect ebbed and flowed.

My turn finally came at a time when the one prev. to me drove up the median and failed the test. Sat down in the car gingerly not knowing whether to touch the speedometer or the steering wheel first and then to the prayer for some prayer thingie. touched both unable to bear the dilemma. Sudarshan was sitting behind me, so no controls from him. This time i was on my own. "one last time nakul, do it well he said". i looked back at him and his eyes said COME ON. That gave me a huge peg of confidence and i started the maruthi 800.

If you enlarge the pic for a clearer view, i started from the bottom left (follow the white arrows) and proceeded anticlockwise, first entering the right most lane and making the big round. As i neared the starting point, i took a left and climbed up the snake turns and went round the circular patch. Then we had to stop where the red thing is and take a reverse into the other part of the V and then moved ahead to join the topmost lane. Then i returned to the starting point and parked the car in the earlier position. No hiccups where the others had in the track, i passed the test smoothly. Good said sudarshan. I walked away...

Then i brought in my two wheeler for i wanted a license for that too. Here the first part of the test is the same i.e the big round anticlockwise. Then we had enter a small [ 1 vehicle at a time] snake track, go around the 8 and come back in the same way we had entered (follow the blue arrows) to finish the test. The main challenge was not to let your feet to touch the ground at any time during the snake track drive or else it was "hehee, no license for that pille".The objective was to test your balance perhaps in tight corners maybe. That too went flawlessly. Later i ran out of the track to call up my mom to break the good news. She was happy.

I finally got my DL for both which i felt was a culmination of the efforts that went in, for learning the car (and also the activa after the accident ;)). With the smart card in hand i look forward to roof topless drives by the beaches in the highways DCH style (and to save maava of his drivers' fee)... ;)