movie review

Yes, I like adaptations

And now for something completely different… Poetry adapted into movies. “How,” you ask, “does a poem have anywhere close to enough content for a movie?” Well, you haven’t been reading the right poetry. We’re talking narrative and imagery, not daffodils and brooks.

The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock is just bleak enough to be romantic without the sweet aftertaste. A Yale student Yulin Kuang has adapted it to a short YouTube clip. I like the poem, most of it, but the video seemed lackluster and too literal. But it’s worth a shot- being an English-as-a-second-language learner in school meant that I never really was exposed to any poetry more recent than the nineteenth century. It was nice to find that yes, there is poetry that is edgy and dark.

Aaaand now for our feature presentation. The Song of Lunch, featuring Alan Rickman. This is no joke. The talented Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson play middle aged ex-lovers in this BBC short based on a poem of the same name. I hadn’t heard of the poem before, but had a sneaking suspicion than Alan Rickman (may he rest in peace) would make a narrator to rival Morgan Freeman. In the wave of RIP Snape mania, I managed to find an undoubtedly illegal print on YouTube, and watched it immediately (thus procrastinating my homework for 50 minutes- instant gratification is my vice).

The first segment is hilarious- Rickman sneaks out of his office at lunchtime, with no intention of returning for several hours. Any cubicle-dweller will relate to the rush of adrenaline that comes when you take the first couple of steps out of the building without being spotted.

The story gets serious afterwards, though. Rickman has a date with an old flame, who ran away with a more successful man. He is clearly not over her, and tries to drown the initial nostalgia and disappointment in several glasses of red wine. Which does not end well.

Once again, I was surprised that poetry could be so, well, contemporary. This short reminded me of cynical indie movies with unpopular-geek protagonists, despite being a regretful poem about unrequited love. Rickman’s badass-ery might have had something to do with it.

Watch this. 4.5/5

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Miscellany

2015 was disappointing, reading-wise. I didn’t reach my paltry target of 30 books, and more upsetting, didn’t read as many good books as I would have liked. The downside of only reading light novels. Anyway, be prepared for more random non-literary posts; it’s either that or reviewing technical papers.

  1. RIP Alan Rickman. Currently, no fewer than 5 of my WhatsApp contacts have “Always” as their status message- this frustrates me so much. I’ve heard that the greatest achievement of an actor is to be mistaken for a character they’ve played, but come on, he has done better than Harry Potter for sure… Hasn’t he? I reviewed Sense and Sensibility a while ago, and he was certainly good there. And if you’re looking for something offbeat, check out the insanity called Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
  2. Guts by Chuck Palahniuk. I dare you to read it without feeling queasy- I finished this short story a couple of hours ago and am dreading the thought of lunch. It’s a short story revolving around masturbation that ironically was published in the Playboy magazine. It’s awkward and gross and may just go over the line unless you have a stomach of steel- try it here.
  3. South Indian cinema today. I finally got around to watching Bangalore Days and Premam, two recent Malayalam movies that have done much to shatter the pretentious artsy image of Mollywood (?!). While they’re very modern and amazingly well-made, they have a few ridiculous plot twists that remind you that this is a south Indian entertainer.  On the other hand, the Tamil movie O Kadhal Kanmani is a brilliant film that deserves your time, even if you must use subtitles. Its portrayal of two couples- one young and modern, one old and even more modern- is sweet without being unrealistic or annoying. Plus A R Rahman’s music, need I say more?

Movie Adaptations, Morals in Children’s Books, etc

Firstly: Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility movie.

I haven’t read this classic by Jane Austen, despite liking Pride and Prejudice. But Emma Thompson won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for this one, and I wanted to understand what exactly goes into adapting a screenplay. I mean, Austen did all the work already didn’t she? Plus, it’s Ang Lee’s first English language movie and he is all famous now.

I’ve concluded that there are only a dozen active British actors. You see them once in a while in Hollywood movies, but whenever any big budget Brit movie is made, they congregate into one star-studded lineup. This is no different. Emma Thompson (Professor Trelawney), Kate Winslet (from that sinking ship movie) and Hugh Grant (from all those chick flicks) play the main roles. And Alan Rickman (Professor Snape) is one of the romantic heroes!!

The story has the typical Austen-esque drama- “He talked to me, but he is already engaged!”. But the characters are not as cartoon-y as the book, I think.

All in all, a well made movie especially if you’re a fan of the genre or can appreciate the subtleties of good direction and acting.

Secondly: CS Lewis’s Narnia series, and what he really meant.

The Narnia series is widely accepted to be a Christian allegory, with King Aslan playing the role of Jesus. The question, then, is what does Susan’s situation signify? As a kid, it never bothered me one way or another. She enters the magic kingdom along with her brothers and sisters, and in due turn, is banned from it when she becomes ‘too old’. However, she does not return at the end of the series even though her older brother Peter does. This is attributed to the fact that she has ‘discovered lipstick’ and is interested in socializing. Which is still okay, until you realize that she’s being punished pretty severely for these ‘mistakes’- her entire family dies in a train crash at the end of book seven. Harsh. Reddit has discussed different interpretations here, give it a look if you’re familiar with the series and curious. As always, Reddit’s infamous hive-mind has come up with some amazing stuff.