Bloody Romance

•September 29, 2007 • 2 Comments

Because my inside is on the outside
My left side’s on the right side.
Cause I’m writing to reach you
but I might never reach you.
I only want to teach you
about you.
But that won’t do.


The Bicycle Thief

•September 10, 2007 • Leave a Comment

The Bicycle Thief (aka: Ladri di Biciclette) is set in a post-World War II Rome and is possibly the best-loved of all Italian neorealist films , with its restrained use of non-actors in the central roles of a father and his son. In fact, the power of this deeply affecting film by Vittorio De Sica is often down to the astonishing verisimilitude produced by De Sica’s non-professionals, and it is a testament to his skill that it is impossible to imagine accomplished film actors producing better performances. Antonio Ricci has been out of a job for several years, and finally manages to find a position as a billposter. However, the job is dependent on him owning a bicycle. The theft of a bicycle for most people would be an inconvenience; for Ricci it is a catastrophe. The film is basically an odyssey, as Ricci and his son Bruno travel all over Rome in increasingly desperate attempts to find the stolen bicycle. Ironically, the thief is found shortly after the duo visit a fortune-teller.

De Sica handles all of this with tremendous assurance, and the life of the poor in Rome is conveyed with maximum realism. As Ricci is pushed ever closer to the end of his tether, the scene is set for one of the classic moments in cinema: in desperation, Ricci is forced to become that most despised of creatures himself – a bicycle thief. His theft of a bicycle and his almost immediate apprehension by a vengeful crowd is as powerful as anything in cinema, as is the successive scene involving Ricci’s son. Despite the air of improvisation, De Sica’s film is as carefully structured as any Hollywood product, and the organisation of the crowd scenes is astonishingly adroit. The scene in which Ricci’s bicycle is stolen is handled with the panache one might expect in a more outwardly polished product, but this is the art that conceals art: De Sica’s achievement is to render his technique invisible.

Major characters include Antonio Ricci, his son Bruno, his wife Maria and the thief. The minor ones include people who represent different social groups.  Firstly, there was the poor class that included other unemployed people; the community the thief and his family belong to. Then there was the middle class which chiefly consisted of the ones who could enjoy leisure time. For example, the “charitable woman” in the church, the policemen who failed to enforce justice and Sontana, the fortune teller. Finally there was the rich class, which included the people in the restaurant.

The search for the bicycle also varies beautifully from the ‘right’ places (police station & market), to more and more desperate ways of searching (including seeking help from the fortune-teller and stealing).

Interestingly, the one poster Ricci is putting up that we see in detail features Rita Hayworth from another very celebrated 1946 romantic-thriller, Gilda. There’s also a scene later in the movie where Bruno is nearly run over twice while crossing the street. This was absolutely unrehearsed – it was filmed on location and the two cars happened to pass by at that time.

Cesare Zavattini, the script writer for The Bicycle Thief, was the most important theoretician of neorealism. He wrote his screenplay in just four days after watching an attempted theft while sitting at an outdoor Roman cafe. “My fixed idea is to deromanticize the cinema,” he said. “I want to teach people to see daily life with the same passion they experience in reading a book.”

De Sica has shown no schematic illusions, and there is little sympathy between the impoverished protagonists as they struggle to obtain the few available jobs. In fact, De Sica’s film contains an implicit plea for a change in society’s values, which remains as potent as ever.

Time under the gibbet

•July 21, 2007 • 6 Comments

The more I opened my eyes, the blurrier it got. My pupil’s demurral towards the bright rays could compete with a goat’s qualm against the butcher. A fresh wave of saliva washed my throat. I felt my lips with my tongue. It was worse than the taste of a dead sockeye salmon.

A hot breeze blew the hair off my face. The deafening tranquillity made me feel like I was in the middle of a Byzantine carousel, only louder. Regaining senses at that time apeared very taxing, but the more I tried to surrender to the moment, the easier it got. I knew I was seeing & not hallucinating for the endless vastness of the desert that lay around me dreadfully justified the pain every heartbeat in my chest was.
I mumbled ,”What the fuck?! How much longer …”. My gaze suddenly fell upon the slithering green mass under my cage. It stopped & looked at me directly with an ashen stare, one deadlier than Shahar’s. I knew that look. Its name was ‘Time’. Its been slithering that way since forever. Three other grotesque figures danced below me. Their feet’s ryhtm was incredibly synchronized with every breath of mine. They weren’t just phantoms of some delusional imagination, they were as real as the bars of the gibbet I was in.

I woke up drowning in a pool of sweat. I felt too tired to breathe. But then if I had other choices, I would have adopted them by now. So i inhaled slowly & deeply. Its been three years & the show would go on. I just wish I had a more comfortable seat in the balcony.


American Psycho

•July 20, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Lets get down to business. Apart from being a top-hole genius, this Mary Harron effort is a sincere reflection of her class that stands exclusive in a genre of thrilling drama chiefly dominated by male directors. American Psycho is originally a 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis. It is a first-person narrative of the life of a 26 years old, wealthy young banker and self-proclaimed serial killer. The graphic violence and sexual content was widely commented & talked about at the novel’s release.


While the story is set in Manhattan in the late 1980’s & in itself is a roller-coaster ride through rivers of terrifying comedy, Christian Bale’s thespianism in the movie turns out to be a visual treat for the viewer that is full of energy & animation.


Patrick (Christian Bale) , in addition to his fiancee Evelyn (Resse Witherspoon), dates several women, whom he refers to as ‘hardbodies’, in this 100 minute depiction of his rampage, where he also tortures & kills both people & animals, derives pleasure in experimenting with the corpses, cannibalizes his victims & practices violent sex.


Though I must point to the fact that ‘gore’ is not the glue that sticks the diegesis to your mind, its the depiction of a deranged, soul-less creature who treasures surface-appearances more than most things & who seems human but isn’t quite sure himself. In fact, he doesn’t even know who or what he is !


Who’s insane….. him or us ? That’s the joker in the gamble. That’s the riddle of the sphinx we are left to solve – if there exists a solution !