Wednesday, November 9, 2016

US Election 2016

Trump triumphs.

I remember budding scientists lamenting the loss of funds for scientific research back in the Bush era. Money was used for funding wars, they said. It  was as if some wanted to  bring  everyone down - to a certain basic business level. As if they had something against literacy, against higher studies, against art, humanity, its evolution, progress towards  better, equal world for all classes, races, sexes. That they were trying to produce and maintain a group of drones and peons for their massive corporate and military structures . It was a giant leap backward into the Middle Ages, where only a handful should enjoy the perks of being rich and powerful, and that included the Church. The servant should be happy and content being servants, and obey the Masters .I know I am being naiively idealistic, and I know all politicians are just that, in the end -- politicians. A skewed sense of morality and goodness is part of the game, the only difference being in degree and kind. For instance, neither party has done anything significant to stem the rising cost of higher education in this country, so as to make it accessible to everyone. And, successful businessmen in this world have to be even greater politicians if they want to succeed, I would think. Maybe that will work in America's favor with the new President.

However, I can't help being worried for that budding scientist, and artist now, boy and girl. I hope this is not a giant step backwards for America, and for the world which looks onto America, to imitate, to garner support for their own agendas. One thing I am sure about is that the Indian girl suffered a hefty loss. Sexism does not exist, many say around here and in India. Wake up, moms and dads, especially Indian, sexism, misogyny exists - is openly flaunted, in the name of religion, culture, and tradition, in countries like India. People like Trump become role models there, sadly, all for the wrong reasons. For, to them, he stands for fundamentalism, jingoism, racism, white supremacy, and a lot of other backward thinking attitudes. But why should Americans care, huh? As per Trump, and his followers, it is not America's problem. That kind of isolationism is scary. like someone said, (well, a character in a movie )with great power comes great responsibility. Being world police just for economic gains is, to say the least, irresponsible. Human rights is not just a catch phrase to be bandied about for one's own gains.

2008- Race won then, when the Democrats chose Obama over Hillary. Even then we heard sexist and ageist comments from Obama himself, and no one cared. I hoped that he would be a bridger of gaps, when he became President, and it was time, the race issue had to be addressed. Of course, in the current campaign,  she was dehumanized, as is the usual case, when women try to step out of their prescribed sphere, when any marginalized, and/or colonized being would attempt to become uppity. They are either burned at the stake, branded as witches, or crucified. Still, she fought valiantly. It is amazing how much fight she had in her, how much she wanted what she wanted, and how much she was ready to fight for, in this world run by men. I am awed by her tenacity, her persistence, and above all, her brilliant mind.

 I console myself, thinking they are all politicians, that they break up and make up for their own purposes. That they are all united in their race for success, money, and power.
The losers are the common people, generations of boys and girls. Humanity lost a chance to go forward. To that ideal world of inclusion, unity, equality and enlightenment. We lost the fight against bigotry, ignorance, and class. America blew a chance to make history, to be  role model for all the growing boys and girls of the world. But then, who knows! Ever the hopeful person that I am, maybe now that he has won, after having used every trick, every misogynistic, bigoted, exclusivist idea to woo and win a huge hate-filled section of this country, acting as if he was part of the servant class, when he assumes office, Trump, along with his Trumpets/Trumpettes, will show who he really is. Which side he will support, which country he will lean on, who he will put first, to serve his purpose, which, I hope, is as noble as he thinks it is. After all, it is all a show, and he is the greatest showman of them all!

Friday, February 12, 2016

The allure of the Spirit World and of other worlds: Kung fu Panda 3 (2016)

Where do I begin? How do I describe the picturesque beauty of this fantastic movie? Shall I describe the green skies and golden clouds touching tall mountains, and the elaborately, intricately carved Jade Palace set at the  top of those seemingly endless steps, or the blue-leaved trees along the way to Po's ancestral village,   the secret green green Panda village nestled in that valley past the tall frozen waterfall, where in the evening, red lanterns glimmer and in the day, baby pandas roll down green hills, and around with huge butterfly kites ...Maybe I should  swoon over the detailed depiction of the colorful interiors of the homes, the weaves of the rugs, the stacks of porcelain bowls, the pots filled with dumplings.  or shall I sing songs of praise for the golden shiny Spirit Realm where Oogway resides now, a fabulous place which you reach riding a swirling pool of pink petals, and where the chubby panda Po becomes the true Dragon  Warrior - flaming - literally in a translucent fiery dragon form, trailing a golden silk cape behind him, enjoying it all, so proud and happy that we tear up. I had loved the first two movies in this series ,and I was waiting for this one - did not disappoint me at all. I am reminded of that other movie with its cozy little farm  in that lush green valley, where a bright little pig named Babe lived with his farmer friend. Another movie that enchants.

And then there is Kai - the villain. The one who steals the "chi" of all the great Kung fu masters. Like a psychopathic vehicle of the god of Death,  a bully bull on steroids, he saunters along, swinging metal chains in each muscular hands to the beat of his special music. The Dragon Master is the only one who can subdue him, send him back to the Spirit World. And only once he himself learns the art of giving "chi". A lot of, maybe cliche'd wisdom is strewn around the whole narrative - like those annoying posts on twitter and facebook and whatnot - the boring declarations of the very obvious, but here, I didn't mind at all. Stating the obvious becomes an art in here! for they all fit the story line perfectly. For instance, "The more you take, the less you have". "You cannot be anything unless you try doing something you don not know". 'Know who you are" - and "you are not just one thing - you are a mix of many, and so being you, and your best selves, will make it all work." And of course the way it all works out in the end - the selfless act of Po, his sacrifice for his friends, and the courage and support of his friends in turn. Many lessons are given and learned all along as Po finds his true self - as in "I knew it! I haven't eaten to my full potential!"

 But what made me smile happily was when I heard the old teacher in the Spirit World, perched up among the blossoms of his tree, answers  Po's question as to whether he can go back to the mortal world, with a smile - "Who knows! I never tried!" Obviously he doesn't want to! What a wonderful, hopeful option of a life after death! To me the writers are incredibly clever - able to create such endearing, splendid characters as these warriors and their relatives and friends - among whom is one Mei mei the champion ribbon dancer who cannot be accused of being a humble wall flower! And the two dads of the hero, and the ducks and the rabbits and the intrepid pig who produces instant portraits under any conditions, and the rope bridges that connect tall peaks over cool rivers and the greens and the blues, and the golds, and the pinks......The warmth and the cold, the fire and the snow. It all comes together to give us a spectacular, grand experience. The "chi" flows - flowers bloom, magic happens, all's well with the world! I am sure even the hardened grown up would sit there with wonder-filled eyes  and a happy smile.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

An old man, a little home near the sea, and Roger : Mr Holmes (2015)

To think that I might have missed this one! If not for a post on a facebook page! And the post was made by an expert in the business. I don't know if this movie was showed in the local theater. But I am thankful that it was available in our library.

Mr Holmes is 93 years old now. Yes, THE Mr Holmes - of the Sherlock denomination. And yes, the movie begins with that romantic old train, my weakness. :) And he lives in this beautiful home in that beautiful countryside, the typical English one with all its greens and flowers and stone walls and country kitchen complete with a cozy housekeeper who is busy with carrots and cabbages and stews and teas. For me, even those mundane oranges and greens and blues work to enhance the whole movie watching experience. The movie is a sensual feast, even though there is no sexy romance in there of nubile young beings. Only the loneliness and the regrets of an old man who once had the sharpest of intellects, who had lived his life by the tenets of pure logic. And that scary curse of old age - the slow deterioration of the mind - the loss of memory.

However, it is Sherlock Holmes. You do not expect him to give in without a fight! That, maybe, one last hurrah.  He finds a perfect partner in crime in the young Roger - the fatherless son of the sad, bitter, no-nonsense housekeeper. Their conspiratorial relationship is fascinating, as is their fight for the good bees against the evil wasps. And the solving of two mysteries, one of which involves the woman in his last case. I particularly liked the way the past is told - by Holmes himself, through his diary, by Roger reading the same - simply clever and not at all intrusive. But even though while I watched the movie, everything blended into a whole object that is the character Holmes, something about his relationship -- or I should call it the "non-relationship"  that never was, but should have been-- between him and that tragic young woman, lingers. Like Holmes says, his logical analysis did not help her - nor did his own fear and pride help - neither him nor her. Even though he knew they were kindred souls - two lonely hearts who could have been lonely together. The great Holmes realizes it late in life, like many a common man or woman! Makes him one of us. But this realization helps him in resolving the other mystery - this time with feeling and imagination - both which he had spurned before. He can grieve for Watson at last!

The slow loss of his memory, for Holmes, does not turn out to be a total loss -  the childless, Watson-less, Holmes gains a son and gets in touch with his feelings. As does the mother of the boy. It is all so simple - a simple story about an almost (by now) mythical character, but it is written well, and made well.