Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wagner & Me

I love Wagner's operas, and yet I know that he was anti-Semitic and that Hitler was a great fan.  It isn't always easy to separate the man from his genius, but , a Jew who lost family members in the Holocaust, succeeds in doing just that in Wagner & Me.  He examines the man in personal and historical contexts and visits theaters, including Wagner's specially designed theater, where the music was, and is, played.  Ultimately, Fry comes to terms with his love of Wagner's masterpieces and is able to step, like a giddy child, into the theater to enjoy the annual Bayreuth Festival.  I really liked his analogy, comparing Wagner's music to a stained tapestry.  It is still beautiful, but the stain remains.

Midnight's Children

I haven't read 's Midnight's Children, but after seeing the film, that is going to happen soon.  The story follows the lives of two babies who were born at midnight, August 15, 1947, the day of India's independence from Great Britain.  Shiva, born to a well-to-do family, and Saleem, born to a beggar's wife, but actually the son of a departing Brit, are switched in the nursery, after the death of the beggar's wife.  Narrated by as Saleem, the story follows the boys through childhood into adulthood intertwined with the backdrop of the history of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. 

I saw the film for two reasons.  First, I was impressed with director 's film, Water, and wanted to see what she did with this story.  It didn't disappoint.  Second, the write-up categorized it as science fiction.  That aspect comes out when Saleem discovers that he can communicate with others of the 1,000 children who were born at or near the same midnight, each with some kind of power.  One of them, Parvati, is a magician, with whom Saleem falls in love.  As adults, the children are persecuted and sterilized.  In a way, I was reminded a bit of John Wyndham's book, The Chrysalids (aka Rebirth), which was the inspiration for the Jefferson Airplane's Crown of Creation, but with a different outcome.  I digress.  

I really enjoyed the movie.  It examined issues of religion, politics, society, family, human nature, love, hate, fear of "the other", and so on.  The book is over 500 pages, and I'm sure a lot must have been left out, particularly about the bond between the boys and the history of the 3 countries.  I'm looking forward to reading it.

As a post script, it was, as always, a treat to see  Anupam Kher in an all too short cameo role.

Go Goa Gone

Go Goa Gone is a Bollywood zombie comedy, with several laugh out loud moments.  In a nutshell, three friends end up going to an island near Goa for a rave party sponsored by the Russian mafia.  One of the drugs passed around ended up turning people into zombies, and the friends, along with a few other survivors, try to find a way off the island, while avoiding being eaten by the zombies.  was a riot as Boris, an arsenal-toting member of the Russian mafia, a bit reminiscent of  's character in Zombieland.  Rather than being a Bollywood remake, it was an original story that payed homage to other films.  A familiar line that stood out was Boris quoting, "I'll be back."

Aside from its comedy genre, what impressed me about the film was that, before it began, introduced the film with a brief warning about smoking, drinking, and drug use.  He emphasized it by relating his history as a smoker and the heart attack he had at 36.  Bollywood films always include a warning about smoking if it is going to appear on screen, but this one was actually powerful.  And the movie itself was a hilarious warning about the risks of drug abuse.

Star Trek Into Darkness

But for one detail, I loved Star Trek Into Darkness.  It was a new twist on an old story - familiar characters, role reversals, plot twists. I'm still getting used to the alternate reality, but it worked well. The excellent and already familiar crew of the Enterprise is back, and it was a treat to see in the film.  The one thing I didn't like was 's role.  I can't say why because it would give a major surprise away.  Suffice to say, he was excellent, but ultimately wrong for the character.  I wish they had just created a new one for him to play and it would have been perfect.  As it is, there are two actors who would have much better, each for a different reason.  DO NOT look at the Internet Movie Database links if you don't want spoilers.