Studying Lights, Cameras and Action

Film is an odd topic that never feels like it fits in anywhere. Literature studies film as part of its domain, but then again the only thing that separates film and TV shows is that the latter is comprised of multiple short episodes, and we don’t classify TV as a literary medium, do we? Sometimes film is embraced by media studies, but in that case why don’t we count theatre in the same vein, since film is essentially theatre taking place on a screen? And so in order to clear the confusion, people tend to just study film on its own, and even within this family there are many differences.

If you think about it, the way you classify a film is that it takes place on a screen in a reasonable amount of time, such as 2 hours on average. It usually manages to tell a complete story in these 2 hours (or 8 hours, if we think of Indian films), but there may be sequels — think of the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, where the ending of the movie left audiences feeling empty because it wasn’t much of an end. But this is a very loose definition. TV movies — such as Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo — and artsy films like, er, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, are both films, but it’s laughable to put them side by side and compare them. Plus Trouble In Tokyo is always cooler, hands down.

But really, while it is tons of fun to go all academic and challenge what defines a film, my slowly healing cold is going haywire on me because in the kitchen a pot is boiling over a coal stove (and burning coal releases a pungent smoke that tickles my lungs). With my head murky with smoke, I shall be much simpler and talk about movies that I enjoy.

I don’t really remember watching many arthouse films. Or rather, maybe I have and couldn’t tell they were arthouse films. Would my favourite movie, Up, count as arthouse? It was produced by a commercial firm for a commercial juvenile audience, but it does have artsy music and an artsy way of presenting its plot. Or Wall.E, because the first forty minutes had no sound? When something has no sound, it’s got to be artsy, right?

But I love Up. It is unparalleled in my mind. I love the music (which is comparable only to the music of Howl’s Moving Castle, but you know that already). I love the characters, especially that old man whose name I can never recall, because I particularly love elderly characters. I love the animation, of course, and the voice acting and the vibrant colours of the balloons as they float skywards. I must say I cannot think of any other movie that touched me so deeply on so many levels.

Hmm, but before Up I used to love the Incredibles. It was the epitome of awesome for children, with a superhero family trying to live an ordinary life. Can you imagine that perhaps your neighbour might also be a superhero, valiantly suppressing his noble identity? But no, today’s entry isn’t solely about Disney Pixar.

People tend to have this great fascination for foreign films. Foreign films, especially the European ones, are always so much classier and sexier than their Hollywood counterparts. Well the only thing I can say about that is that the movies that we do watch are usually award-winning popular ones in their home countries, whereas we get all kinds of Hollywood movies in our cinemas. Their distilled quality may give us the illusion that the grass is greener on the other side, but it may simply be that we get the choicest picks of the grass, and then generalise about the quality of the grass they come from.

Hollywood isn’t all bad after all. Look at how popular and cool they made Batman. Now everyone walks around looking like the Joker or that watzisname guy, Bored or Bard or… oh yes, Bane. Wikipedia has all the answers. But yes, superhero flicks hold a strange appeal in America. No other country has made donning a tight suit and making childish gestures to “unleash powers” so awesome-looking. Try comparing the Avengers with Masked Rider, for instance. Masked Rider just does not cut it once you’re over 15.

I could say more about films, but I think I have covered enough ground for your own internal discussion. In any case, I am looking forward to the slew of movies I shall be watching during my birthday celebrations, and remember, kids. Piracy does not pay!

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