Archive for June, 2011

Cinema: Ten (2002)

June 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Ten (2002)

This was one hell of a novel film – an unnamed woman driving a car (Mania Akbari) is the main character, and the movie is divided into ten sequences – ten encounters between the driver and her passengers. These include her son, her sister, an old woman on her way to a mausoleum, a prostitute and a young to-be bride. Along the way we learn that the woman has divorced her husband, and this is a source of much conflict between the woman and her son Amin (Akbari’s real-life son, also named Amin). After a lot of quarreling, the mother relents and allows him to go stay with his father. This part is just pure feminist-fodder, Amin resents the fact that his mother is an independent, working woman, calling her selfish and a bad mother for not being a housewife. The old woman in the third sequence is the sort of religious nut who simply won’t stop talking about their piousness, but the best scenes come with the to-be bride. The first time she is seen is when she is offered a ride back from the mausoleum, when she talks about wanting to get married, but her tone and her face reveal some sort of underlying tension. She is later seen in scene 9 (and scene 8? I couldn’t make out), when her to-be husband rejects her. When Amin’s mother asks her why she has worn her veil so tightly, she loosens it and we realize that she has shaved her head. In a moving scene, half laughing and half crying, she says it makes her feel free, liberated. The part with the prostitute was also good – the prostitute got into the car when Amin’s mother braked, thinking it was a man. We never see her face, and even when she leaves the car looking for another customer, we only see her back, properly veiled.

I don’t know how much this film grossed, but it must have cost next-to-nothing to make (talk of RoI)! It is entirely filmed on a digital camera, most of the actors (except for Mania Akbari) are amateurs and there seems to be no film crew involved – just the camera placed on the car’s dashboard. Overall, the film explores how excess social conservatism causes a ton of social problems and friction on a personal level. Very well-made, engrossing.

Music: Wardruna. Insanely trippy stuff. Pre-Christian Nordic folk music, with 3 planned albums and each album has 8 runes.

Runaljod - Gap var Ginnunga (Wardruna, 2009)


Categories: Cinema, Middle East

Nostalgia Attack!

June 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Finally managed to locate my old feed-list and promptly loaded it into my reader. Two pieces of awesome-ness from there:

  1. Whataman on whataman: AK’s tribute to Nangafakir. I humbly re-post
  2. Pandu/IISc freethinkers. I hope he remembers Nokia 2600s on vibrator mode.
Categories: NITK

Cinema: Atanarjuat, Ten Canoes

June 28, 2011 Leave a comment

I discovered these two movies a few months ago, but basically watched a few snippets and skipped most of them – so I decided to do them justice today.

Atanarjuat (2001)

Atanarjuat is a 2001 Canadian film, written and performed completely in Inuktitut. The plot derives from an ancient Inuit legend, set in the first millenium AD, and cautions against setting personal desires against the needs of a community – a matter of life-and-death for a people truly living on the edge of the world. I did mess up the experience somewhat by reading the plot on wikipedia before I watched the movie – and it is rather long at almost 3 hours (and the plot is stretched rather thin). But that was more than made up by stunning Arctic landscapes, and a wonderful, vivid recreation of a long-lost, Stone age culture….as a reviewer on IMDb put it far better than I can:

Atanarjuat (2001)

“Storing oil in a bird’s gut, moving the whip with such gentleness to get the dogs down on the snow, the song that Atanarjuat sings when he’s rowing, the way they touch noses to greet each other, the silent wisdom of ‘little daughter’,’little husband’, the metaphoric ice chamber fight, “did he say the words ‘kill'”, ‘your bark is louder than your bite’….”

All in all, some room for editing to allow for a smoother narrative, but a treat to watch nonetheless.

Ten Canoes (2006)

Ten Canoes is a 2006 film set in Arnhem Land, Australia, before the indigenous population came in contact with Europeans. The narrator speaks in English, while all characters speak in the Yolgnu Matha dialect. The story has an interesting plot-within-a-plot structure – while on a hunt for goose-eggs, Minygululu, who knows that his younger brother Dayindi covets his youngest wife, tells Dayindi a story from a much older time. Ridjimiraril is a great warrior with 3 wives – and knows that his younger brother, Yeeralparil, covets the youngest. A stranger appears, arousing suspicion when he offers to trade magical items. He leaves after a while, and Ridjimiraril’s second wife goes missing soon after. Ridjimiraril suspects the stranger of kidnapping her, and in his jealousy, he ends up killing the stranger, a member of the neighbouring tribe. As per tribal custom, the offender (and a chosen companion) must face members of the victim’s tribe, who throw spears at the two men, stopping only when they have speared one. Ridjimiraril chooses Yeeralparil, and after dodging many spears, is mortally wounded. After he dies, the kidnapped wife returns and reveals that she was taken by another tribe, much farther away. So now Yeeralparil, who only wanted the youngest wife, is saddled with all three – a nice way of saying “be careful what you wish for”.

All scenes from the goose-hunt are in black-and-white, while scenes from the distant past are in colour. The narration is excellent – David Gupilil is eloquent and witty – and the film as a whole is engrossing, a well re-constructed world of another culture lost to time. A gem of a movie, must-watch!

Ten Canoes (2006)

Categories: Cinema

Links/News: June 27, 2011

June 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Yale Global Online reports on the beheading of an Indonesian maid in Saudi Arabia. The funny part is, Saudi Arabia has an automatic seat on UN Women, a body “dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women…… A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.” What a sad, miserable joke. Another feminist paradise, Iran, was thwarted only after some last-minute wrangling by the United States.

Sticking with Saudi Arabia, the Oil Drum has a brilliant analysis on the geopolitics behind Saudi Arabia’s intervention after Bahrain was engulfed with protests this past summer:

Saudi troops crossing into Bahrain

“Bahrain wouldn’t seem to have a lot to offer, except that it seems to offer something for a million people (half of which are guest workers) living on a desert island. Why is it generating so much interest? Is there any oil left there? In this article, I will discuss some recent developments between Bahrain and its neighbors in the context of its long history.” (Read the complete article here)

The country is messed-up enough to inspire a LOT of curiosity – considering that it has basically had its boot on the throat of the world’s economy for atleast thirty years now. There was always a suspicion of OPEC countries over-stating reserves by a big amount, but could it be true that the Saudis, long seen as the one producer with enough spare capacity to tide over fluctuations in supply, have actually been running a GIANT Ponzi scheme simply to draw in more investment?

We live in interesting times!

Categories: Energy, Middle East

Can anyone get more blatant than this?

Found this while reading up on peak oil:

“We want the price to be between $70 and 80, not only to help the West, but to help ourselves – we don’t want the West to go and find alternatives”

Thats the Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and by the way, he seems to own 7% of Fox News. Interesting.

Categories: Energy