Phantom Thread Review

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread treads through the murkiest waters of morality, and it does so in the full etiquette of its world. Its primary strength lies in the way the tension is handled throughout, in how it builds suspense even if it seems be to be telling us everything we want to know. The emotional bedlam that ensues gradually is the beating heart of the movie, yet its pounding is suppressed in mere whispers as if it to be a nugatory underlining, which causes it to coil inwards. The effect that betides is that every passing frame starts to take on the form of a ticking bomb, due to explode at the slightest misunderstood utterance. So even when nothing remotely wrong is happening in a scene, everything else seems to suggest the very contrary.

This is the textbook example of a director with an unyielding mastery of his craft working here at the top of his form. Consider how Anderson tackles the primary elements of sensuality and tension that emulsify to form the base of Phantom Thread. Rather than the bountiful skin-show that the naïve would have resorted to, Anderson never strays from the suppressed tonality of the world he concocts, choosing to rather resort to the very essence of physical attraction which is the total mobilization of the senses. Lewis and Krieps observe each other intently, scrutinizing every grimace and roll of the eyes and straining to catch every sound of the other. The tension is educed from the subtle lingering between lines and scenes, with this delayed transition giving way for silence to strikingly meander which is then filled henceforth by the mood of the movie, which as aforementioned, never runs for a second without a tinge of tension.

Parts of the movie center themselves on the physical process of the creation of art. The measurements, the tapes and the threads are all unravelled before us, shown here in great detail. Then, a duly focus and patience is given to the very creation of a dress, from the inception circling around the designing process and coming to a denouement with the material fruition. I know all of this sounds pretty boring. Believe me; it is more thrilling than a car chase.

Herein, I also wish to bring attention towards the scrupulous sound mixing which otherwise runs the risk of going unappreciated. So, it is said that artistic processes take place on the right side of the brain, the side that is liberated from the mundane considerations of the verbal left side. Whenever Reynolds gets engrossed in the creative process, Adrian Bell & John Midgley (the sound mixers) draw out all the brouhaha of the external world and immerse us in the world that is Reynolds’ mind. And whenever the external world is perceived from Reynolds’ point of view, every monoscopic sound is incorporated to let the viewer comprehend the incertitude of the relationship between the creative and the external.

The chunk of the runtime deals with shifting power dynamics within Reynolds, Cyril and Alma. Both Cyril and Alma are strong and Reynolds is weak and both want him to feed off their kindness. Alma however fears that Reynolds sees here merely as an object, while Cyril knows that Reynolds sees not Alma’s outside, but the insides. Reynolds is left in a state of stupefaction between this shifting power dynamics dubiety, and in the midst of all this, Anderson subtly masks the crux over which he weaves the entire movie around – the relationship between Reynolds and his mother. The notion of love, dear reader, is a strange paradox. As the fictional philosopher Richard Levy puts it in Allen’s Crimes & Misdemeanours ‘The paradox consists of the fact that when we fall in love we are seeking to refind all or some of the people to whom we were attached as children. On the other hand, we ask of our beloved to correct all of the wrongs that these early parents or siblings inflicted on us. So that love contains in it a contradiction, the attempt to return to the past and the attempt to undo the past’. As we can infer from the sparse information that Anderson treats us to, Reynolds life seems to be a mere continuation of his mother’s, much as the course of a ball on the billboard table is merely the continuation of the player’s arm movement. In the midst of the women in his life, Reynolds intently becomes weak and infirm, so as to compensate in their affection the tutelage from his mother for which he was never privy to. Or is the other way round?

I haven’t the faintest idea, and Phantom Thread isn’t a movie that gives answers. When Anderson pulls the rug out from under Phantom Thread, it raises even more questions. To try to answer them is to miss the point. These are ambiguities which are meant to get under your skin and stay there.

There will be detractors of course, as there should be. But do ignore the ones which say ‘nothing happens’ in the movie. I say so because whether you like it or not, it is indubitable that ‘so much is happening’ beneath what we see. As Milan Kundera once succinctly put it ‘On the surface, an intelligible lie; underneath, the unintelligible truth’.

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The Post Review

“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

These where the words of George Augustine Washington, a president so beloved that after his second term, the crowds supplicated for a third.  He was succeeded 36 terms later by a man whose words where ‘When the president does it, it means that it is not illegal‘. Richard Milhous Nixon was a weed in the garden of democracy, and The Post is about those who decided it was about time to uproot him from there.

Unlike All The President’s Men by Alan Pakula (a masterpiece with which unfair comparisons are bound to crop up, thematically and artistically), Spielberg’s vision doesn’t scrutinize the method of the investigation. There is no cross checking of directories or following up on those allocation of funds (which always seem to end up in shell companies by the way) or anything remotely of that sort. What it does is play itself out like a morality play, from which we learn how journalists should behave.

The plot seemingly runs on two parallels for most of the run time, resulting both in the jarring effect the first half exudes and the power the second half emanates. One of them circles around Ben Bradlee, the executive editor of Washington Post whose journalistic sagacity and an anomalous active interest in the affairs of other newspapers has lead him to cognize that something extremely pivotal is set to materialize in the political scenario, something that may just be the turnaround for the shabby state of Washington Post at that time if they happen to get their hands on it. The second plot thread follows Kay Graham, the owner of Washington Post who has enough troubles on her mind even without the Pentagon papers, since the company is going public and the shareholders seem to have a wavered confidence in her capabilities to lead it. Making the affairs further complex is that Kay has personal relations with the parties whose lives and careers will be rocked beyond repairs if the papers go into print. And in the midst of all this bedlam, the truth awaits patiently to be shone light upon.

The quandaries I had with the movie are quite sparse, yet it would be helpful to jot them right here, considering my inherent vice to dabble in the concluding paragraphs to exhibit my own personal views and in the way forgetting to play the role of a ‘critic’. The very first of them (and seemingly, the last of them) is a non harmonious flow of affairs that commences with the two story lines running on different platitudes, with almost nothing expect the similar crop of faces creating a link between the two. Does it accentuate the the climax you may ask, and yes will I say, but in my book, the ends do not justify the means when it comes to movies at least and a natural proclivity for the Pentagon papers rather than the stockholders’ meetings renders the Graham thread insipid in some parts.

What it does right is that it establishes character. We are acclimatized to their demeanor and their fears so succinctly, that we chalk up our own character arcs in our minds on how they will respond to a certain situation. And herein Spielberg plays a masterstroke :- he lets us believe we are right about them. Streep, giving one of her greatest performances on film, seems suffocated by her societal shackles which delude her from working for the interests of her enterprise, and Hanks’ plays the newspaper man with such finesse that it is hard to suspect whether all he cares about is something that sells or the hard hitting truth. We know who these people are, and that is where in the final 30 minutes when things start going haywire, we realize we couldn’t have known less about them.

What it does right is that it establishes the stage perfectly for what facet of the story it wanted to explore. By maintaining a duly curb on the investigation process, the wayward shift from the newsroom to the nation wide debate that ensues about freedom of press seems like a naturalistic transition rather than capitalizing on the present skewed political scenario from where it gleans its relevance from.

Dear reader, truth does set us free, but first it pisses us off. The Post is about a select few who were pissed, and wanted others to be as well. The scenes where the journalists huddle in silence, or when the printing machines hum to life to prepare the ‘first rough drafts of history’ as the movie puts it or where the Watergate fiasco comes to life happen to be the most powerful. It is because what we are seeing is the truth coming to life, and as human beings, it resonates with the conscience of one and all. From the facade of lies that liars like Nixon weave to delude is, it is these journalists who save us from time to time, not so much by the rectitude of Grahams as by the dogged curiosity of Bens. Those who view The Post just as a statement on the current shabby affairs of politics is missing the cohesive whole. Sure, it asks us, have all the men who succeeded George Washington to that chair been half-worthy of it ? But it also subtly asks, would you be so invigorated if the film playing was a feed from any newsroom of today ?

THANKS FOR READING. IF YOU HAVE LIKED/HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS / HAVE ANY DOUBTS, PLEASE SHARE. I WILL RESPOND TO IT AS SOON AS I CAN. AND PLEASE SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE. YOU CAN FOLLOW ME ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE TOO https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011549616628YOU CAN ALSO E-MAIL ME ON castlebang786@gmail.com OR favebook2011@rediffmail.com

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Copyright : All written content on this site, unless otherwise noted, has been created by the website owner. As such, the content is the property of the website owner. This content is protected by Indian and international copyright laws. If you wish to reproduce, re-post, or display any of our content on your own site please only do so if you also provide a link back to the source page on this website and properly attribute authorship. Our preference is that you seek our permission before doing so. If you see anything on this website that has not been properly attributed to its originator please contact me. In response, I will attempt to correct the attribution of the offending material or remove and/or replace it. All material on this website is posted in accordance with the limitations set forward by the Information Technology Act, 2000. If a documented copyright owner so requests, their material will be removed from published display, although the author reserves the right to provide linkage to that material or to a source for that material. As a website devoted to discussing and reviewing movies and television I will at times, for illustrative purposes, present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always be specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for purposes such as criticism, comment, and research. The website owner believes that this constitutes a “fair use” of any such copyrighted material because the articles published on this website are distributed for entertainment purposes

A Man Escaped Review

Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition. Our hero Fontaine is blessed with intelligence, and circumstances make having ambitions a dire necessity for him. Thankfully, the same goes for our storyteller Bresson, whose peerless mastery of his craft make him yearn for a masterpiece and nothing less. The result is ‘A Man Escaped’, an astounding story where the truth is far more powerful than anything the fiction can conjure. You will watch it absolutely convinced, thrilled and mesmerized. All that cinema can do is done here.

As aforementioned, much of this movie is bound in routine. The title sabotages any cheap pay-off in the form of the impending fate of the escape. We know beforehand that he does, always one-step ahead of the dubious Fontaine, yet the more we knew, the greater the fear.

Bresson here takes a great risk, and it works brilliantly. He chooses for much of the action to center on the method of the escape, and what happens is that we gradually we sink into Fontaine’s world, scrutinizing every possibility and even the impossible ones. Here Bresson illustrates how the escape works in the chasm of his mind, not just as a physical process most fancy, but rather an exercise in inspiration.

Yet as the intricacies of the thought warp us, we see the thinker taking shape before us. And as he tries one approach and then another, we see the process of his mind at work. Yet it is part of the movie’s formal brilliance that, suddenly, during its final 10 minutes, too much seems to be happening.

The film clocks in at 99 minutes, and it Bresson’s genius that makes us feel that a minute less or more, and the whole movie would have crashed in on itself. The reason why it gathers so much power, is that Bresson knew exactly what he wanted to say, and what he wanted to say was so succinct by nature, that he only had time to tell the truth.

THANKS FOR READING. IF YOU HAVE LIKED/HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS / HAVE ANY DOUBTS, PLEASE SHARE. I WILL RESPOND TO IT AS SOON AS I CAN. AND PLEASE SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE. YOU CAN FOLLOW ME ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE TOO https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011549616628YOU CAN ALSO E-MAIL ME ON castlebang786@gmail.com OR favebook2011@rediffmail.com

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Copyright : All written content on this site, unless otherwise noted, has been created by the website owner. As such, the content is the property of the website owner. This content is protected by Indian and international copyright laws. If you wish to reproduce, re-post, or display any of our content on your own site please only do so if you also provide a link back to the source page on this website and properly attribute authorship. Our preference is that you seek our permission before doing so. If you see anything on this website that has not been properly attributed to its originator please contact me. In response, I will attempt to correct the attribution of the offending material or remove and/or replace it. All material on this website is posted in accordance with the limitations set forward by the Information Technology Act, 2000. If a documented copyright owner so requests, their material will be removed from published display, although the author reserves the right to provide linkage to that material or to a source for that material. As a website devoted to discussing and reviewing movies and television I will at times, for illustrative purposes, present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always be specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for purposes such as criticism, comment, and research. The website owner believes that this constitutes a “fair use” of any such copyrighted material because the articles published on this website are distributed for entertainment purposes

Piravi Review

Cinema’s modus operandi can be capsulized in three basic steps – concocting a ship of emotions, warping us within them and then scupper itself. So, as a medium, I believe cinema has been inherently blessed with the ability to educe a reaction or the another from the audience, even if just the shock of the shattering of the world it encapsulates us in.

But there are exceptions, and what this piece emanated from is a duly fascination with coming across one. ‘Piravi’ is the first movie in a long time to leave me speechless. I firmly believe the tone has something to do with it. That to choose nature over plot and characters in the exordium to acclimatize me to the pace of the film (which is of life itself) had something pivotal to do with the hanging feeling of a very non-absence of a cinematic world to play these characters in.

I also feel the actors had something to do with it as well. The way Premji conducts himself throughout the movie makes it impossible to think that he exists outside it, as if his body and this role are as inscrutably bound to each other as destiny to life.

The settings are the final nail in the coffin. I don’t remember the last time where pretendedly, a movie had a cultural identity of its own, which made it feel like it belonged to the place from where it tells the tale. The cut-off locale in Piravi makes everything seem complete and everyone to have an obstinate, sure and self-sufficient place. The brute routines give the appearance of a place which exists beyond the realms of time and space, only bound by peerless ennui.

It was William Wordsworth who put it as succinctly as anyone can, that the child is the father of the man. What Piravi is about at its crux, is the loss of that man. Towards the denouement, there is a scene in a boat which is moving for a multiplicity of reasons, one of which being is that Chakyar is no different from the baby which clings to his mother. His mind has resorted itself to the only comfort that babies know of, which is the stability of love and the least care of who they get it from.

In a recent conversation I had, the question of the importance of art came up. My answer was ‘Every passing day, we look at the harsh realities of life materializing all around us. We see our worst nightmares being the living reality of most. And what do we do ? We look away. Away from all that causes us malaise. And after that, we return back to our bearing of common place individuals in sepulchral cities trying to filch a little more money from each other. This is where art comes in. It forces us to look at the truth, into ourselves, shows us how our morality is nothing but a mere farce, exploits our conscience and aims to change our very nature, to makes us into individuals who sympathize with all and hate none. As Jean Luc-Godard said ‘Cinema is truth 24 frames per second’. Piravi is truth

THANKS FOR READING. IF YOU HAVE LIKED/HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS / HAVE ANY DOUBTS, PLEASE SHARE. I WILL RESPOND TO IT AS SOON AS I CAN. AND PLEASE SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE. YOU CAN FOLLOW ME ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE TOO https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011549616628YOU CAN ALSO E-MAIL ME ON castlebang786@gmail.com OR favebook2011@rediffmail.com

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Copyright : All written content on this site, unless otherwise noted, has been created by the website owner. As such, the content is the property of the website owner. This content is protected by Indian and international copyright laws. If you wish to reproduce, re-post, or display any of our content on your own site please only do so if you also provide a link back to the source page on this website and properly attribute authorship. Our preference is that you seek our permission before doing so. If you see anything on this website that has not been properly attributed to its originator please contact me. In response, I will attempt to correct the attribution of the offending material or remove and/or replace it. All material on this website is posted in accordance with the limitations set forward by the Information Technology Act, 2000. If a documented copyright owner so requests, their material will be removed from published display, although the author reserves the right to provide linkage to that material or to a source for that material. As a website devoted to discussing and reviewing movies and television I will at times, for illustrative purposes, present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always be specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for purposes such as criticism, comment, and research. The website owner believes that this constitutes a “fair use” of any such copyrighted material because the articles published on this website are distributed for entertainment purposes

 

Fallen Angels Review

I often bore my readers by complaining about how bored I am by formula movies that recycle the same moronic elements. Now finally, here’s a movie not on autopilot. Watching Fallen Angels is like entering a world of its own for it can exist solely in the mind of Wong Kar Wai and no one else. Every once in a while you come across such movies, with the worlds they engender being like none other in memory, each of them staking out a completely new place and colonizing them with peerless imagination. Believe me, Fallen Angels is like nothing you have seen before.

While watching it, you will either resolutely resist it or absolutely give yourself over to it. Now which of these paths your emotions let you tread on, I haven’t the faintest of ideas. Yet there is one thing that I can say with utmost veracity and that is, that the enticing invitation that Kar Wai extends into this phantasmagoria that he concocts is enough to hold you spellbound till the credits roll.

The music, the camera, the lighting, the colors, all of which ran on different latitudes while I was watching Chungking Express, come on the same plane here and fabricate an orgasmic experience for the senses as well as the mind. The color pallet on play is so exuberant and blithe that, yes, I can only compare it to The Double Life of Veronique. And even in Kieslowski’s world, they could not cease being separate elements while in Kar Wai’s world, the lights do not subsist to accentuate the feel. They rather seem to emanate from within the characters themselves, from their moods, emotions, senses.

I can’t seem to remember any scene in recent cinema which such striking sensuality as the masturbation sequence with Michelle Reis. The music sets the mood, the lights fill the gaps and by the time (which seems like forever when the scene plays out) her hands reach between her legs, we are with her – writhing in pleasure in what seems to be a lust for life that Kar Wai arouses from within us, far more titillating than any ample skin show that the naive resort to.

I have watched Chungking Express and In The Mood For Love, yet watching Fallen Angels, it felt as if it was the first Kar Wai I was watching. I admired the aforementioned movies, and share with countless other lovers of cinema, a deep admiration for the innovative lighting, camera movement and editing they have, yet that admiration is all that those movies seemingly educed in me. On the other hand, watching Fallen Angels, I saw an artist, unable to conceal the very depth of his vision, standing completely naked before his audience. All the techniques and plethora of characters he bombards us with seems to be nothing but a farce to distract us, to ward us off from coming across that beating heart of his which he conceals in every passing frame. To watch Fallen Angels, was to understand who Wong Kar Wai was, as an artist and more importantly, as a human being. And to say what most of those who I have and will come across in my life will not have the misfortune to hear, I guess I like him.

THANKS FOR READING. IF YOU HAVE LIKED/HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS / HAVE ANY  DOUBTS, PLEASE SHARE. I WILL RESPOND TO IT AS SOON AS I CAN. AND PLEASE SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE. YOU CAN FOLLOW ME ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE TOO https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011549616628YOU CAN ALSO E-MAIL ME ON castlebang786@gmail.com OR favebook2011@rediffmail.com

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Copyright : All written content on this site, unless otherwise noted, has been created by the website owner. As such, the content is the property of the website owner. This content is protected by Indian and international copyright laws. If you wish to reproduce, re-post, or display any of our content on your own site please only do so if you also provide a link back to the source page on this website and properly attribute authorship. Our preference is that you seek our permission before doing so. If you see anything on this website that has not been properly attributed to its originator please contact me. In response, I will attempt to correct the attribution of the offending material or remove and/or replace it. All material on this website is posted in accordance with the limitations set forward by the Information Technology Act, 2000. If a documented copyright owner so requests, their material will be removed from published display, although the author reserves the right to provide linkage to that material or to a source for that material. As a website devoted to discussing and reviewing movies and television I will at times, for illustrative purposes, present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always be specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available  for purposes such as criticism, comment, and research. The website owner believes that this constitutes a “fair use” of any such copyrighted material because the articles published on this website are distributed for entertainment purposes

Eraserhead Review

The world of Eraserhead seems like a spiritual extension of the theories Jack Ripper propounded in Doctor Strangelove. The precious bodily fluids have been polluted and the world has plummeted into an apocalyptic bedlam following a probable nuclear explosion. The chasm between the world and those who inhabit it has become illogical, pathetic and absurd. No wonder it was one of Stanley Kubrick’s favorite movies.

Eraserhead works like all of Lynch’s other works, in tone rather than plot. We are so confined in the world of these characters, so intrigued by the absurdity that we ‘demand’ an explanation. Yet Lynch knows better than to give one, for any payoff it seems would be impotent when compared to the set-off.

Which brings me to think, is the set-off the payoff ? Is the very invitation Lynch extends into the absurd world of his the point of his works ? His movies seem to start in the middle of nowhere, end in the same way as well and in between, the magic happens. Furthermore, the structure accentuates our lack of satisfaction in whatever answers we think we encounter.

The film continually makes a gesture to itself as a source of meaning and discovery independent of the protagonists, and the audience ceaselessly tries to attribute a final meaning to the affairs. Yet Lynch evokes rather than supply. Hesitate to put a final meaning to Eraserhead, dear reader, but rather try energetically, even frantically, to figure out what Lynch has asked to have experienced, to have noticed and understood.

Eraserhead stands like an enigma cloaked in a mystery, a labyrinth without a center. For me, it even worked as a personal expression of the agony of Lynch himself as an artist, projecting himself in the form of The Man In The Planet, agonizing in pain with every pull of the lever of the stage he is setting up. Lynch knows that no relation of a dream can convey the dream sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is of the very essence of dreams. The realization dawns upon on him with every passing frame that we live and as we dream – alone.

Eraserhead is a movie about a plethora of characters searching for a movie to fit themselves in. Where are they going ? We don’t know. Lynch doesn’t say.

THANKS FOR READING. IF YOU HAVE LIKED/HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS / HAVE ANY  DOUBTS, PLEASE SHARE. I WILL RESPOND TO IT AS SOON AS I CAN. AND PLEASE SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE. YOU CAN FOLLOW ME ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE TOO https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011549616628YOU CAN ALSO E-MAIL ME ON castlebang786@gmail.com OR favebook2011@rediffmail.com

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Copyright : All written content on this site, unless otherwise noted, has been created by the website owner. As such, the content is the property of the website owner. This content is protected by Indian and international copyright laws. If you wish to reproduce, re-post, or display any of our content on your own site please only do so if you also provide a link back to the source page on this website and properly attribute authorship. Our preference is that you seek our permission before doing so. If you see anything on this website that has not been properly attributed to its originator please contact me. In response, I will attempt to correct the attribution of the offending material or remove and/or replace it. All material on this website is posted in accordance with the limitations set forward by the Information Technology Act, 2000. If a documented copyright owner so requests, their material will be removed from published display, although the author reserves the right to provide linkage to that material or to a source for that material. As a website devoted to discussing and reviewing movies and television I will at times, for illustrative purposes, present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always be specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available  for purposes such as criticism, comment, and research. The website owner believes that this constitutes a “fair use” of any such copyrighted material because the articles published on this website are distributed for entertainment purposes

Thoughts on Life Itself

A realization has dawned upon me that all the words in English language, or for any language for that matter, fail to express even the minuscule of what one actually feels, for they are nothing but sounds designating concepts and these concepts are more or less frequently recurring and associated group of sensations, basically – just arrant commonness and our emotions happen to be beyond that. Another duly realization is that through incessant use and reuses, the phrase ‘life-changing’ has lost the ability to refer to anything but itself. So when I thought to open this piece of writing with the words ‘Roger Ebert changed my life’, I realized it was an obligation on my part to point out the trappings of language my feelings would be inscrutably confined to. Words cannot possibly let you, my dear friend, to fathom the love and admiration and gratefulness I have towards the man. Yet try the best I must, fully knowing that only failure awaits me at the end of this endeavor, for as Ernest Hemingway once said ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down and bleed’ and all this bleeding for cinema in this blog would be an exercise in utter futility if not to have bled for the very man who inspired me to start this blog in the first place. So, having made a daft effort to confirm that all the inadequacies you will find in the article set to follow are legit, I conclude this prelude and begin :-

Roger Ebert changed my life. Not how I live it obviously, but rather how I look at it, which I believe is far more important. And having warded off from using hyperbole for some time now for the fear of getting indigestion later from eating my words (which has happened more often than I care to admit), I have made hell sure that this statement holds irrevocably true and I believe it does, for whenceforth I have discovered them, movies have been my life and Ebert has changed how I look at them. I still remember that me from three years ago, teary-eyed, prancing around with a never-before experienced euphoria after just having finished watching Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation at two in the morning. That was the first Ebert review I read, and believe me, Roger made sure with it that it wouldn’t be the last. The ending lines of that review were, and I can still quote it from memory ‘Do we need closure? This isn’t a closure kind of movie. We get all we need in simply knowing they share a moment private to them, and seeing that it contains something true before they part forever’. I remember clenching my fists after having read it, trying helplessly to stop the inevitable downpour of tears set to follow at the realization that someone had the exact same experience at that scene where Bob and Charlotte part which I had felt previously was only privy to me.

That’s what made Ebert a band apart. I have come to read multitudinous pieces of film criticisms in my life, with quite a few of them possessing apodictic prosaic beauty. Yet all of them seem to be centered on what is ‘right’ and what it is ‘wrong’ in a movie. Now as important that may be to some, in the bigger picture, I cannot think of something of lesser significance for what is ‘right’ for me may very well be ‘wrong’ for you. It isn’t what the movie is that forms its appeal, but rather what it invokes and no one knew that better than Ebert. Every review of his was like a portal of the sorts found in Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich (a movie he so dearly adored) for it lead us straight into his mind, engulfing us in every minute emotion which flooded into his brain while watching the movie.

There was a beautiful sentence with great truth to it that I came across and has stayed with me every since in Micheal Cunningham’s The Hours which said ‘One always has a better book in one’s mind than one can manage to get onto paper’. And when I ponder on that, I wonder what would have that piece Roger wrote for Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (in his Great Movies collection) sounded like in his mind ? Whenever I read it, and I do that quite often, it means something different for me every time, yet every time it always means something to me. It is as if he poured his whole heart in it with a child’s breathless disregard of the consequences.

It so often happens that the greatest events and thoughts are comprehended last, the generations which are their contemporaries do not experience such events – they live past them. It is in this respect that Ebert becomes truly epoch making in the literary circle, for in most cases genius turns out to be incommunicable and reluctant, blowing cold on the passerby. Yet, with Ebert, even the very naive was aware of his unparalleled mastery of his craft and lapped it up wholeheartedly.

Film criticism from the heart is like the Penrose stairs. We seem to be eternally damned with the failure to express what we truly feel at the end of a great movie, so we are clueless on where to start or end, ending up rummaging around our ideas, as if separate paragraphs can shed light on each other and form a comprehensive whole. Roger Ebert, an indisputable giant of American letters, came as close as one possibly could to describing the indescribable.

Great artists incite an interest towards appreciating their body of art, while the greatest incite an interest in mastering it. I know of no other who has inspired such a legion to love movies and write about them than Ebert. He was and is and will be, for me and countless others, the greatest of them all and the only rating I can possibly give Life Itself if two thumbs up. The tragedy is that the thumbs are mine, and not Siskel and Ebert’s. The reassurance comes from the fact that all those who love movies do consider it a tragedy.