Its been seventy years since India got its independence from the British. Its birth was accompanied by the traumatic cleaving into two of British India and the traumatic loss of the Father of the Nation, Gandhi only five months later. Yet, India under its first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru embraced a democratic and inclusive vision for India. This vision is under serious threat right now, but that is a post for another day.
I am going to celebrate this milestone by blogging about India. The highs, the lows and everything in between, over the next two weeks. I plan to cover movies, science, history, geography of the original melting pot.
I leave you with national anthem written by Rabindranath Tagore, performed here by its preeminent and beloved artists, representing India’s tremendous linguistic and religious diversity. First there is an instrumental version, then a vocal one, both arranged by A. R. Rahman, an example of India’s many cultural strands come together to form a unique whole. This version is from 2000, many of the performers featured here are no longer with us, like Jagjit Singh and Bhimsen Joshi.
One of my all-time favorite classic movies is showing this weekend, very likely at a theater near you!
It’s Billy Wilder’s 1959 farce Some Like It Hot, starring Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as a pair of Chicago musicians who accidentally witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and are forced to go on the run in disguise with an all-girl band, whose lead singer just happens to be Marilyn Monroe at her most adorable.
This is probably Wilder’s most direct tribute to his mentor and idol, Ernst Lubitsch, with its cross-dressing, mistaken identities, and unexpectedly sweet romance, all with a frisson of danger, both emotional and physical.
This is a special presentation by Turner Classic Movies (TCM) through Fathom Events, which means that it may be livestreaming to a movie theater near you so you can see it as it was meant to be seen — on a big screen with a hysterically laughing audience.
The two Fathom Events shows are this Sunday 6/11 and Wednesday 6/14, so I’ll be doing my usual spoiler-filled essay on Saturday 6/17. See you then!
Happy Birthday 67th Maharashtra. The Sanyukta Maharashtra* Samiti (United Maharashtra Organization) succeeded in their quest for the formation of the state of Maharashtra with Mumbai as its capital. Because many of the leaders of SMS were labor leaders, they chose May 1 to commemorate their victory. It took a bitter struggle of over five years and the blood of more than a hundred martyrs. The ruling party at the Center under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wanted Bombay to be a centrally administered area. Ramachandra Guha has a more detailed background of the struggle here.
Photo Credit: Sameer Markande
By two_kittehs (Picture by: cvf)
Happy Gudi Padwa, the first day of spring and the New Year. Its time to welcome spring and the new year by celebrating love. Starting the new year in spring makes much more sense than the dead of winter, isn’t it?
And now a celebration of love.
I heard this today, from the recently released Phillauri. I think I am in love. The very last lines, slay me.
Tere bin saas be kaanch si kaate re,
Zindagi raakh si laage re
Translation: Without you , every breath cuts like glass
Life feels like ashes.
ETA: Check out Diljit Dosanjh, you won’t be sorry, Anushka Sharma, too looks radiant.
Moving is not fun, no matter how many times I do it. Whether it is across continents and oceans, states or to the neighboring town, it never gets easier. I am so glad that the Insufferable Movie Snob kept the blog going on, posting her detailed and funny reviews. If you haven’t already checked out her reviews you should do so now. She rocks! Here is a link to her last review.
My last movie/TV review post before my brief unplanned hiatus was on Star Trek Deep Space 9. Unlike The Next Generation, aliens of DS9 were more than just obnoxious caricatures and Star Fleet officers were not always perfect. Main and recurring characters experienced growth and change. The show had strong women characters who had more to do than just look pretty. I have be re-watching DS9 since the fall and I for one would like to revisit Terak Nor more than once. It has a wealth of episodes pertinent to this moment in history that we are all a part of.
When I asked which episode you wanted me to review, these were the episodes that came up in the comments.
His Way (6.20)
Its Only a Paper Moon (7.10)
Far Beyond the Stars (6.13)
Blood Oath (2.19)
In the hands of the prophets (1.20)
A Time To Stand (6.1)
Tears of the Prophets (5.26)
Once More Unto the Breach (6.7)
In the Pale Moonlight (6.19)
Most of these episodes are in seasons 6 and 7 when DS9 reached its climax. Because of the serialized nature of the show I think it would be better to go in chronological order. So people who haven’t watched DS9 before, can join in if they want to.
With that in mind, I will start at the beginning with The Emissary. I also think Duet, is a must watch of the season one episodes and we can end our season one watch with In the Hands of the Prophets. If you would like me to cover any other first season DS9 episodes leave a comment.
This is a complete list of season 1 episodes. Without further ado let’s dive in and begin at the beginning.
Streaming Alert: If you’re a cable TV subscriber, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) should have this available for streaming on their WatchTCM website and app for at least another couple of weeks.
It’s Christmas Eve, so Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, and Happy New Year to those who don’t (we can all agree that the year ends on December 31st, right?) This holiday film is one of my all-time favorites, though it’s a “Christmas movie” in the same way that, say, Die Hard (1988) is a “Christmas movie,” because it takes place during that season while not having anything to do with Santa Claus or Jesus or “the magic of the season.” The Shop Around the Corner (1940) involves two parallel stories about the beginning of one romantic relationship and the painful end of another, which lends it that air of melancholy that all of the best Christmas movies have. We can appreciate the happy ending our main characters have because we know the potentially sad ending years down the road.
We start with Ernst Lubitsch, one of the few directors in classic Hollywood who was so well-known, he had his own tagline: “the Lubitsch touch.” Of the films he made under the censorship regime of the Production Code, this is one of the best examplars of how he was allowed to handle themes that were supposed to be strictly forbidden (like suicide and adultery) because the censors trusted him to use his “touch” to make the audience empathize with the characters rather than using the themes for cheap sensationalism.
(For a glimpse of what Lubitsch was capable of under less restrictive censorship, take a look at one of his greatest films, Trouble in Paradise (1933), covered by yours truly over at my Pre-Code films blog.)
This film was very personal for Lubitsch because the character of Mr. Matuschek (played by Frank Morgan in probably his best performance) was partially based on Lubitsch’s own father, who was a similarly tyrannical shop owner in Berlin while Lubitsch was growing up — the young Ernst even worked at his father’s store as a teenager. It was based on a Hungarian play about a perfume shop and adapted by one of Lubitsch’s regular screenwriters, the great Samson Raphaelson. It has been adapted several times as a film (including In the Good Old Summertime (1949) and You’ve Got Mail (1998)) and even a Broadway show (She Loves Me), but none of the remakes has ever equalled this simple story of Matuschek and Company, “just around the corner from Andrassy Street – on Balta Street, in Budapest, Hungary.”
I have to admit, I was really torn between reviewing this movie and Holiday (1938), because I love them both so much, but I think this one dovetails nicely with our current election situation, because it’s all about the press being venal, self-serving, and short-sighted, and only stumbling on the truth by a convenient coincidence. His Girl Friday (1940) is a deeply, deeply cynical movie at its heart, and that truth is only slightly concealed by the charms of its stars.
Since I was apparently too subtle in mentioning that The Haunting was adapted from Shirley Jackson’s novel of (almost) the same name, I will say right up front that His Girl Friday is an adaptation of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s The Front Page, a classic play that, like Jackson’s book The Haunting of Hill House, I’ve never read. There are a couple of different stories about exactly what made director Howard Hawks realize that The Front Page‘s bromance between reporter Hildy Johnson and editor Walter Burns could be made into a straight-up hetero romance rather than a story filled with repressed homosexual love, but it makes perfect sense that Hawks would be that guy. Of the “Golden Age” Hollywood directors like John Ford or Frank Capra, Hawks always had the most consistently strong women and always seemed to be the most comfortable with women who could hold their own with and be accepted by the male characters while still being sexy romantic leads. Even when he made a musical starring Marilyn Monroe, in Hawks’ hands it became the story of a strong friendship between two women, not just a story about gold-digging showgirls.
One thing before we start: director Hawks specifically wanted to replicate the fast-moving, fast-talking action of the stage play, so if you have any kind of hearing issues, you may want to turn the closed-captioning on so you don’t miss any vital plot points. The technology of the time required that a series of concealed microphones — up to 35 for a single scene — be turned on and off at precise times, a task made even more difficult by the fact that Hawks encouraged his leads to improvise their dialogue. Though it must have given the sound men conniptions to try and keep up, the effect makes the film still seem fresh and modern 76 years later, and of course the fashion for snappy overlapping dialogue continues to this day.