Friday, July 22, 2011

Having watched Ex-Drummer

For almost a couple of years now, movies that i’ve watched have included a certain sense of seriousness – of reality, of the world, of injustice, of stupid governments, of everything that we think is wrong with the world…these movies and documentaries manage to tell you stuff which your parents don’t, teachers didn’t and the media never will…naturally, they excited me. But the problem of enjoying something or things which follow a particular patern is that, you eventually start questioning that too…it’s sort of like a game of equilibrium your inner psycho plays with you i guess. Questioning got me thinking, “what does the other side feel like?” or “how do people with different points of view justify their beliefs, or do they at all?”…No answers. Not one book, movie or person to satisfy that twisted void.
Twisted. that’s the word which can describe the movie “Ex Drummer”.
Here’s a movie that everyone will love to hate, and yet when Belgian film-maker Koen Mortier had completed writing, producing and directing this filthy gem of a movie, he made sure that even the haters were shocked beyond repair, waiting for Cameron Crowe or someone similar, to come with a feel good movie to balance things out inside their brains…Film making has always had had its baggage of censorship and share of ‘altered’ storylines to stick to the status quo that the viewers live in. But rarely, had i come across a movie, which manages to not only pass those barriers but break them into smithereens while doing so. Until now, that is. Anti-feminism, anti-homosexuality, anti-migration, anti-monogamy,anti-affirmative action favouring the disabled, anti-every-civilized-notion….that’s what this movie is. the story itself is quite a shocker..
A middle-aged famous writer, bored with his scaringly normal life, decides to take up the offer of being the drummer in a band, for one show only, where the remaining members are handicapped in more than one way…each. The lead guitarist is a deaf crack head, who doesnt have a clue about his family – crack head wife and crack-head baby girl,who live in the same shady room… the bassist is a homosexual who cannot move the joints in his right arm, due to a masturbatory accident involving his mother and a wig, while he was still young…the lead singer, just likes to beat up women, smashing their skulls open and all – if you can ignore this trait of his and the fact that he is a neo-nazi skinhead who for some unexplained reason walks upside down in his own house, and has a lisp in his speech, then you’ll probably see that he has a warm attitude towards people, as long as they aren’t women or homosexuals. Now our good ol’ protagonist has his own reasons for joining the band…which he calls ‘The Feminists’. So bored yet content is he, that he just wants to attach himself to losers for a while to get a taste of what ‘fucked up’ means…while always having one foot out of the door. One of those people who see which way the wind is blowing, and turn themselves accordingly.
And then again i often wonder, why or how a person could come up with such a movie? what’s inside his head?…or is it just because someone got tired of all the political correctness in movies and the viewers..and decided to make a movie about what people or just he himself think in general?…beats me.
The only way i can describe the shock value of “Ex Drummer” is by saying that if TRAINSPOTTING and IRREVERSIBLE had a one night stand and they had a baby, and that baby would start screwing OLD BOY for a whole year, then their baby would be EX DRUMMER.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

'Never Let Me Go', directed by Mark Romanek and based on the 2005 novel by Kazuo Ishiguro is a story about three friends who grow up in an idyllic country school called Hailsham in the late seventies. They are amongst a group of fellow children who were raised for one single purpose - to reach adulthood and start donating their vital organs to people who need it, until they die, or as the story puts it, when they 'complete'.

It's not a science fiction dystopian story about a bad world. Calling it so would be naive as the parallels this story draws with real life and how children are raised in controlled environments make you wonder if Ishiguro was merely telling a story or rather showing us a reflection we generally turn away from. In the story, kids aren't told how normal kids live lives in the outside world, they aren't encouraged to dream and the only contact they have with 'naturals' is through teachers and caretakers. The only priority is to make sure they live absolutely healthy lives.

Kathy and Ruth are really good friends. Tommy is shy and weird. Kathy and Tommy strike a chord as she is the only one in school who does not tease him. Getting jealous of this closeness Ruth moves in and makes Tommy her boyfriend (ah, schooldays) before anything can happen between him and Kathy. The three grow up together and move to 'The Cottages', a place where they meet 'donors' from other schools in their late teens before they are all seen primed up for organ donation. Kathy, not being able to withstand the tag of being the third wheel, volunteers to be a 'carer', who travels across the country and looks after donors who are about to 'complete' after their third or fourth donation.

Cliche demands that movies cannot be as good as the book. This time, I think it's a tie. Romanek does justice to Ishiguro, although he does leave out some small moments from the book. I'm guessing he did so to make the story less dramatic. but he makes it up with the excellent casting of characters. Carey Mulligan (An Education) is beautiful as the humble and introvert narrator Kathy. It is, perhaps, one of her best roles. Keira Knightley (Bend It Like Beckham, Pirates of the Caribbean)  as Ruth glides tirelessly between shades of a best friend who is a bitch at times and later, a person looking for redemption. Andrew Garfield (Boy A, The Social Network) as the hopeful and gentle Tommy, is showing more promise with every single role he has played so far. Boy A and Never Let Me Go should come out as a double Garfield package if he ever makes it to the A-List. It doesn't really matter - he's already a great actor. 

The background score is really good as the music switches effortlessly from a green English countryside vibe to a tense hopeless moment in some operating table. A song, also called 'Never Let Me Go' is a track by fictional jazz singer Judy Bridgewater, in a cassette that Tommy gifts Kathy while at Hailsham. According to Ishiguro, this is sung by a mother to her baby daughter. The young Kathy would often play it in the empty dorm while holding her pillow tight. A part in the book and left out in the movie, shows a French art teacher addressed by the students as Madame, crying while she sees Kathy swaying gently with this song playing in the recorder. Kathy does not understand then why Madame wept. Years later when they meet again, Madame explains that in that moment she saw a girl about to leave the old life, that was the comfort Hailsham offered, and move on to a cruel world that would see her as a resource for a better life. This song according to Madame, was the girl's words to her old life, asking it not to let her go. 

It's a good book to read. It's a great movie to watch. And yes, boys do cry.