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Posts Tagged ‘jg ballard’

Ogden NashThe Collected Works Of Ogden Nash by Ogden Nash

Have you ever wondered if it would be possible to write something funny without delving into the realms of satirical social commentaries, absurdist views of cultural flaws, vitriolic trashing of populist beliefs and just plain mean criticism of art? Is it just possible to say something funny for the sake of humour and not an opinionated comment? A tickler: The firefly’s flame is something for which science has no name, I can think of nothing eerier than flying around with an unidentified glow on a person’s posterior. Let me introduce to the deliciously wacky world of Ogden Nash. A sprawling madhouse where rhymes meet nonsense halfway in the corridor and giggle incorrigibly at everything else. Another tickler: Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long. While Ogden Nash also dabbled in writing for Broadway musicals, his passion, time and patience were saved for “humorous poetry”. One more tickler: The cow is of bovine ilk; one end is moo, the other is milk. Decorated with some of his finest one-liners and limericks, The Collected Works Of Ogden Nash is a perfect companion during those lonely train journeys. Even when the humour takes a breather and the rhymes get all Hemmingway-ish on us, it still makes for pleasantly introspective digestion. Last tickler: How pleasant the salt anesthetic…we vegetate, calm and aesthetic, on the beach, on the sand, in the sun.

Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe

patrick mccabeFor almost an entire year when I frequented British Council library at Anna Salai, I got myself hooked on to Irish literature. Iain Banks’ Wasp Factory put this thought in my head that Irish writers, much like Korean film directors, were a messed-up lot who suck the light out of day and save the rest for the night. Ultra-talented writers who craft barbaric forms of art only to lull unsuspecting readers towards fear and insecurity. Despite the flimsy basis on which these notions were formed, I desperately kept an eye out for such novels. My sense of delirium also had a role in my fortunate ‘stumbling upon’ of Patrick McCabe’s The Butcher Boy, the harrowing tale of Francis ‘Francie’ Brady. With the troubles of a broken home working overtime on young Francie’s mind, he often retreats to his “violent fantasy world” where pigs go beyond bacons and sausages; matter of fact, they give the Iain Banks’ wasps a good run for their money in terms of being truly fucked up living, breathing literary metaphors. The scene involving the killing of a piglet at the abattoir is somewhat of a personal landmark. I flinched for the first time while reading a novel. Read The Butcher Boy only if you like being disturbed (if don’t. you could watch Neil Jordan’s film adaptation).

The Crystal World by JG Ballard

jg ballardI grabbed this book from the counter at Blossoms (Bangalore) only because a little voice told me that it probably inspired Jim Morrison to write my favourite Doors’ composition – Crystal Ship. Before you slip into unconsciousness, allow me to talk a bit about JG Ballard, the writer. His vision, as evidenced by the new wave, sort of science fiction-ish stories he writes about, is apocalyptic and dreamlike at once. There is also a hint of discomfort in most of his novels; something that he uses against the readers and quite naturally, for the readers. Whether it was the sexual fetishism in Crash (no not that shitty Oscar-winner), the scathing brevity of The Atrocity Exhibition or the sheer weightage of psychoanalysis in The Drowned World, something has always crept up in JG Ballard novels to cause a slight disorientation of our senses. In The Crystal World, he weaves a story around an English doctor (Edward Sanders) who lands in Port Matarre (Africa) to meet his friends at a secluded leprosy treatment center. To do that he must cross the treacherous jungle in Gabon, which for some apparent reason is slowly crystallizing itself and the inhabitants. I must warn you, this is not a page-turner; it moves slowly like a mythical beast, as Ballard describes in detail the process of crystallization and the pop science that governs it. Thankfully, more of the latter than the former. I later found out that Jim Morrison wrote Crystal Ship for his first love, Mary Werbelo. I can’t seem to find an intelligent connection between the song and the book to summarize this review, so I will tell you this …you should totally give Ballard a try if you share equal fondness for science fiction and the English language.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Keseykesey_ken1_med

Fewer movies have done greater injustice to literature than Milos Forman’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Not in an aesthetical sense since it was a decent movie; I mean, it was a relatively fresh breath of cinema in 1975 and also kudos to Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Brad Dourif for tuning in average to sort of great performances during the course of the movie. Unfortunately, having read the book and imagined the scenes that took place within the walls of the Oregon State Hospital in Salem from the brooding Chief Bromden’s point of view, I was disappointed with the way the director told the story from the perspective of rebellious loudmouth Patrick McMurphy. Wait a second, this is not a film review. Ahem. My train of thought has wrecked itself beyond redemption, I’m going to let someone else take the reigns and opine about this fantastic novel.

iCE cUBEUhmmmm thank you, Mr Ice Cube…but I think I was talking about The Brothers’ Judd review of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

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will-smith-in-seven-pound-001Seven Pounds: I detested The Air I Breathe for its feeble attempts at feigning intelligence. A lot of film directors feel the need to infuse some sort of pretentious intellectualism or quasi-theatrical drama into their films to give them credibility. But I ask you, since when did we, neanderthals, NOT enjoy stupid films? Remember Independence Day? Big, fun, cool visuals and er… Will Smith. Hell, sometimes even silly dramas find their way into my heart. Case in point, Green Card and Paradise. Gabriele Muccino’s Seven Pounds is a lot like our colleagues, yeah you know, those ones who read a couple of Nietzsche quotes on brainyquotes.com and all of a sudden think of themselves to be connoisseurs of existentialism. “It’s an extraordinary journey of redemption,” scream IMDB junkies. Give me stupidity over pretensions, I mumble.

00092428_The Accidental Tourist: Legend has it that the jury at Academy Awards took time-off from smoking crack in 2005. They put the crack pipes down long enough to nominate William Hurt for best supporting actor for his 15-minute powerhouse performance in Cronenberg’s History Of Violence. He’s one of the most important actors of the Nineties and look no further than Lawrence Kasdan’s The Accidental Tourist to have a peek into Hurt’s virtuosity as a performer. Also starring the ever-fantastic Bill Pullman, Geena Davis and Katheleen Turner, the film revolves around Macon Leary (William Hurt) – a travel writer for corporate travelers, now trying to get his life back on the road after a tragic accident leaves him desperately cynical towards everything furry and warm. Geena Davis, for once, does not suck and does her best “Minnie Driver” impersonation yet. Kathleen Turner and Bill Pullman, well…they couldn’t suck even if they were forced at gunpoint to act in a remake of Casablanca.

2008_changeling_001Changeling: Clint Eastwood would have got the “comeback of the year” award every year since 2000 but the thing is he never went away. In 2003, after nearly three decades of mediocre acting, mediocre directing, spaghetti westerns and Dirty Harrys, Mr Eastwood hit his peak as a director with Mystic River – a riveting drama that boasts of talent such as Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins. It won Clint Eastwood two Oscars. In 2004, he made Million Dollar Baby and subsequently became the proud possessor of four more Oscars. His next two films were not as critically acclaimed but nevertheless added to his Oscar loot with four nominations and another gold statuette. Angelina Jolie and Clint Eastwood are probably going to be nominated for the Oscars this year for Changeling – a film that was seemingly made for that very purpose. Now, now…it’s a neat film with no jarring flaws but once again, a thread of vacant emotions – similar to that which destroyed Million Dollar Baby’s credibility towards the climax – rears its ugly head. Jolie cries so much in this film that after a point, you almost find yourself rooting for the prodigal “son” to turn evil and run his mommy down with a tricycle.

Long story short, “Mom loses son. Son comes back. Son not really ‘real’ son. Mom finds out. Evil policemen have other plans.” Oh well, at least more Oscar worthy than “poor boy meets rich girl, screws over Billy Zane, screws rich girl in a different way, everyone falls of the cruise ship and the most annoying person on-board survives”. You want proof of the old man’s talent as a director? Go watch Bird.

zoe-bellDeath Proof. For my money, the third best Quentin Tarantino film behind Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. Released in 2007, Death Proof was Tarantino’s tribute to B-grade action of the Seventies and Eighties. A sleazy, gory and stylish nightmare with an opening sequence so preposterously retro and so elaborate that it makes the discourse on Madonna at the beginning of Reservoir Dogs seem like a passing thought. A fitting tribute to non-kitschy influences of liberal thinking, I guess. What many don’t know is that Death Proof is also a tribute to J. G. Ballard’s superb novel – Crash. And to think director Paul Haggis stole some of the book’s best lines, made a corny movie and won a friggin’ Oscar for it. Eishhhh. Remember Don Cheadle saying, “People would crash into each other just to feel something (pause)…anything”. That was so ripped off from Ballard that it almost immediately ceased to be funny. Hmmm…anyway coming back to Death Proof. It’s fun, mindless and a whole lot of Zoe Bell (as Zoe Bell) beating the shit out of Kurt Russell. It’s almost endearing how earnestly Zoe chases Kurt down and opens a can of whoop ass. Now who do I have to kill to see her kick Michael Douglas’ ass?

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