Sunday, June 7, 2009

Off the Rails : Odd's Job and Beyond

Not very much happens in Bent Hamer's O' Horten, Norway's official submission for the foreign language film Oscar for 2007, but if you give it a chance it will steal its way into your heart. The story revolves around 67-year-old train engineer Odd Horten (Bård Owe) as he retires from 40 years of driving trains and spends a few aimless days as he comes to terms with retirement and getting old. With his inexpressive face and ever-present pipe Odd finds himself at odds with the world around him. When he is locked out of a friend's apartment building he decides to climb up a scaffolding and through the window of the apartment below. There he meets a young boy who wants him to stay until he goes to sleep. By that time poor Odd is also asleep and, in the morning, is faced with the prospect of trying to sneak out of the apartment without being seen by the rest of the family. He also falls asleep in a sauna and decides to take a late night naked swim, something that leads to some consternation when a lesbian couple have the same idea. The laughs are leavened with sadness as he pays a visit to his senile mother and learns of the death of an old friend. But what makes the film so rewarding is that he really does learn that there is life beyond his job, especially through the example of an eccentric old man who likes to drive with his eyes closed. Like Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler (2008), Odd Horten is a man whose identity has been entirely wrapped up in his occupation. Towards the end of O' Horten it looks like he might be planning to go out in a similar blaze of glory, taking new found recklessness a bit too far. To find out if he does, or finds a rewarding life beyond work, you'll have to watch the movie. Bent Hamer was also director of Factotum (2005), based on the novel by Charles Bukowski.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Holy Pappadums, Batman! It's a Bollywood Superhero!

This post is something I wrote a couple of years ago.

I heard on the (Cool) Shite on the Tube podcast about a new Bollywood superhero movie called Krrish (2006). So when I noticed that it was showing at my local multiplex last week I couldn't resist checking it out. I'm not big on superhero movies, but I do really like a few of them - Spider-Man (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004), Batman Begins (2005), Hellboy (2004)... And I'd never seen a Bollywood film. Oh, sure, I'd seen films which borrow from the Bollywood style, like The Guru (2002) and Bride & Prejudice (2004), but not a real one.

For those of you who don't know, Bollywood is the name given to a particular kind of movie made by studios in Bombay, India. These are extremely popular films in India and other parts of the world with a large Indian population. They are not at all like Indian art films - Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy or Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay! (1988) . They don't deal with the harsh social realities of life among the poor. They are glitzy, glamourous romantic musicals. They all have big song and dance numbers regardless of whether they are comedies, tragedies, gangster films or superhero sci-fi films. And they often steal ideas from western films.

Krrish is wonderful. I may have expected it to be good for a cheap laugh, but I fell in love with the movie. I was moved by the melodrama, laughed at the slapstick comedy, grooved along to the hip-shaking song and dance numbers and felt like cheering when Krrish saved a little child from a burning circus tent. This is a fun, fun movie. Like most Bollywood films it is pretty long - 154 minutes - but never boring. Hey, it even has a comic relief orangutan in it. What more could you want? And I guarantee, you will fall in love with either sexy Priyanka Chopra or handsome Hrithik Roshan...maybe even both of them!

Krrish is a sequel to Koi... Mil Gia (2003). And Krrish 2 is due out next year.

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