What Is The Greatest Cinematic Experience I Have Ever Had ?

What is it to have a great cinematic experience? As much as the art it derives its existence from, a great cinematic experience is subjective to its very core. I have read various testimonials of couples on the internet talking about how Norman Jewison’s Moonstruck made them fall in love with each other. I, on the other hand would readily make a case that watching a submarine fight while sitting on a beach would be a far better way to spend one’s time than watching the same movie in question.

In these few recent years during which I have fallen madly in love with this art form, the question of how a movie is perceived differently by every individual has hounded me persistently. And it’s not just confined to either a negative or positive response. Even to this day, the lovers of Francis Ford Coppola’s haunting masterpiece Apocalypse Now are debating whether to hail it as a pro or anti war movie.

One of the most pivotal and obvious reasons a movie may allure some and parry others is primarily because of its subject matter. A person who hasn’t gone through heartbreak may not think twice of Marc Webb’s (500) Days Of Summer after having seen it. However, it will stand out as a favorite of one who has experienced this heart-wrenching ordeal because the movie illustrates his life situation, which induces a personal experience for him in the cinema hall rather than a mere steady flow of 24 frames per second.

Another factor causing a major divide among the audiences is one’s perception of cinema itself. A friend of mine who lives a floor above hails Micheal Bay’s Transformers as the greatest movie he has ever seen. This opinion of his was obviously met by me with great dissent and inept sarcasm (Micheal Bay is so dumb he got locked in a grocery store and starved). But the more I think about it now, I don’t see his opinion to be flawed at all for when he walks into a cinema theater, all he expects to take from it seems to be unabashed entertainment which Bay seems to offer.

And as I realize now, I could go on and on about the various factors which seem to be responsible for this psychological phenomena, but none of them would be a concrete factor which one can consider the principal reason for a person to either hate or love a movie. In the end I truly believe, a movie is to a person what he is or has been.

But, dear reader, it was your inquisitiveness towards my own personal experience which brought you to this paragraph. And the answer to the titular question is a relatively well-known movie from Paul Thomas Anderson titled Magnolia. Why ?

Because after watching it, I knew the movie had changed me irreversibly, but I had no idea how. Many of the meaningful moments in our lifetime seem to ascertain themselves with deep, life changing philosophical depth, but somehow, the most important among them always seem to evade their greater meaning from us, as if to make us revisit and learn from them from time to time.

One of my greater fears I have as a human being is I have depleted my quota for the emotions a human being feels in his lifetime and what I am feeling now is just lesser version of what I have already felt. But after watching Magnolia, I knew I was feeling something deeper than anything I had felt, but I also knew I would never have the words to describe it.

For me watching Magnolia wasn’t just a cinematic experience, but more or less, a life experience. And a profound one too.

(Share your greatest cinematic experience and your thoughts on the different perception of movies in the comments)

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The Cinema Of Andrei Tarkovsky

There was a time when visual suzerains held cinema-going audiences spellbound with their every frame a painting modus operandi, hiding beneath these visual orgasms philosophical undertones to be sought after and admired, and in case of savants, comprehended. When I first chanced upon this blogathon, the name that popped up in my mind instantly was that of Quentin Tarantino, a true master of fiery dialogue and the power it unleashes on the minds of the audience. However, if I forsake for this moment my preference for the verbal aspect of cinema than the visual, I cannot seem to think of any other name than that of Russian film-making’s prized gem christened Andrei Tarkovsky.

I belong to the 21st century. Consummated by fast-paced movies, this is a generation which seems to forgive and even adore directors who forsake art if they seem to provide ample entertainment. So obviously, when I was introduced to the cinema of the likes of Ingmar Bergman and Terrence Malick and Bela Tarr, the reaction was reminiscent of a drug addict’s to rehab. However, when the sepia-coloured screen faded in, I was completely mesmerized.

I am talking about my viewing experience of the 1979 classic of Tarkovsky’s titled Stalker. There are very movies which penetrate deep into one’s soul and create an atmosphere which forces one to introspect on the very foundation of one’s existence. Stalker was one of the very few gems that conjured that atmosphere for me. As the movie progressed deep within the Zone, towards the room where one’s innermost desires were satisfied, I experienced my own subconscious tracing its path towards my soul and exposing a facet of it. A facet so veracious in nature that I was taken aback by the years I spent pretending to be oblivious of its existence. When Stalker neared its end, I was left sobbing inconsolably. Maybe when we look so deep into ourselves, sadness seems to be the only emotion invoked. Even if I say Stalker changed me irrevocably, I believe it still would be a gross understatement to the emotional impact this masterpiece by Andrei Tarkovsky unleashes.

But I believe that you, dear reader, still have a pertinent question hanging on the back of your minds. Why Tarkovsky? Why chose him over Welles or Ford or Hitchcock or Kubrick? Your question holds a firm validity since none of his other movies have even come close to Stalker’s greatness. The Mirror seems to be an artistic mess (a description I believe Tarkovsky intended it to be characterized by). His Solaris is an imperfect masterpiece in my opinion, oscillating between Tarkovsky’s and Stainslaw’s (the writer of the novel on which the movie is based) vision, in the end delivering a work-in-progress feel when the screen fades.

Well, the answer to the aforementioned question is crystal clear when I think about it. All directors have a distinctively personal work, say Malick’s Tree Of Life or Fellini’s 8 ½. With Tarkovsky, it was always personal. He intended every movie of his to be a pathway for the viewer into his own being, various cinematic models reminiscent of the pathways John Cusack’s character finds in Being John Malkovich.

All of Tarkovsky’s works were meditative in their nature, with soothing visual imagery at every turn.  It was not an attempt to lure the intellectuals or instill in his movies metaphorical subplots. On the contrary, it was his daring attempt to make art accessible to every layman. An opportunity to analyze and meditate upon the events which had transpired before. Unlike all other intellectuals who have graced the cine industry, Tarkovsky actually wanted ‘everyone’ to understand.


A Memoir About A Best Friend – Robin Williams

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I was watching Star World one day and suddenly an advertisement pops up and a scene from the sitcom ‘The Crazy Ones’ is playing. And then it shows scenes of Good Will Hunting, Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Fisher King, Dead Poets Society, Hook and finally concludes with ‘Goooooooooooood Morning Vietnam !’ and shows ‘THANK YOU ROBIN WILLIAMS 1951-2014’. And, my eyes were transfixed on the screen with utter shock. Completely shaken, I looked at the newspapers and there on the third page was an article titled ‘FROM MORK TO ALADDIN, WILLIAMS MADE THE WORLD LAUGH’ and I cried. One of the greatest shocks of lives had overtook me. My Robin was dead. The guy who inspired me, the guy who made my laugh, the guy who made me cry, he was gone.

Robin Williams is one of the greatest actors of all time. And he had an unshaken influence over me. I always considered Robin as one of my best friends. I heard Robin’s voice in Aladdin first. And his impersonations and his one-liners and everything about the Genie made me laugh. He was the best-friend I always wanted. Not just the wish giving part, but a friend who gives assistance in getting a girl, going through hard times and also makes me laugh, it was a dream.

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Next, I saw Good Morning Vietnam. What a movie ! Robin Williams’  rapid-fire improvisations along with his impersonations and that legendary quote made it one hell of an experience. Williams deserved an Oscar for that role and Academy once again messed up. Robin made us cry and laugh and even showed us the horrors of the war through that classic.

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Next was Dead Poets Society. I cried so much during that movie. It was so inspiring. That thought about seizing the day has still got me. The scene in which all the students stand up in the climax on their benches and shout ‘Oh Captain ! My Captain !’. I was left crying throughout that scene. The way he got to those students, defending them from getting crushed by their parents’  ambitions. He gave them hope and made them love education. He was the teacher I always hoped for. Not a teacher, but a friend of his students.

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And then came Good Will Hunting. A movie as flawless as it gets. My dude Chris Stuckmann was brought back into life during a difficult phase by this movie and I love it for that. This movie is a classic and will definitely make you cry. Such a brilliant performance by Williams. He is so good, especially that scene when Sean says to Will that it is not his fault, I could not stop sobbing. Williams deserved an Oscar for that role & he got it. I always wished I had someone like that who I could talk to about my interests and my passions and my life and he would be such a awesome listener. The movie discusses so many issues and tackles it in such an inspiring way.

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Robin Williams was would do anything as long as it kept the audiences happy. He was the only guy out there who really wanted to see a smile on everyone’s faces. He was one of the best human beings ever born. He is one of the very few celebrities I respect and love and adore and idolize. He inspired us all and made us laugh and I think our laughter was the power that he required to survive. Like Obama said ‘ Robin Williams came into our lives as an alien but ended up touching every human element ‘. Robin will be missed as long as cinema will sustain and Robin’s movies will continue to make us cry, laugh and  get inspired. Robin Williams was more than a man, he was hope himself. One of God’s most precious gifts to the world.