Tuesday, October 27, 2009

[screenings] It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books

‘Listen,’ he said, ‘to the facts of how Terra is run. Two entities maneuver around each other, with the first one ruling and then the other. These entities-‘

‘I’m not either one,’ his son said. ‘I’m an Old and a Regular. I don’t want to take the test; I know what I am. I know what you are and I’m the same.’

- Philip K. Dick, Our Friends from Frolix 8

‘In autumn, that miserable year, the province witnessed, for the first time in 18 years since the el presidente’s visit to inaugurate the new mural done across the walls of the town hall by self-proclaimed indigenous artist and son of the soil, Juan de la Iglesia, also a veritable pig who happened to be the then minister of foreign policy’s only son, of a feeble blind-folded donkey being a led by an angry and disturbingly muscular farmer wielding no less subtle symbols than a hammer and sickle, the honking screaming chaos of a traffic jam. The dust blown graveyard with its gentle melancholic candles and quiet reverence to the souls departed had overnight, to the surprise of one and all, transformed into the head of a mechanized octopus sprouting Volkswagen, Cadillac, Honda and Godknowswhat tentacles across the eight roads from here to the ends of towns and beyond. The village idiot Santiago’s death had seemingly, to the open mouthed surprise of one and all, stirred a pageantry that far surpassed the hushed magnificence that marked the heavenly passing of that redoubtable nobleman Don Camancho and the solemn multitudes that gathered to pay their last respects to Father Font. Senor Santiago had breezed into town a decade ago, an emperor in rags, stinking of cheap wine, not a godforsaken peso to his name but a tongue so rich that it would put poet laureates to shame in one boozy breath. Beneath his muddy tatters lay a body so beaten with wrinkles and scars that one imagines that when he curled up at night under a lamp-post or in a shed he would have resembled no more than a crumpled piece of paper, something a Parisian poet discarded at a café. With his stock of exploits around which he spun grand narratives of adventure and romance, he quickly established himself as the mid-noon to late-night attraction at the Rio Hondo Bar. Tales of lumberjacking in Alaska, of raiding the tombs of Egypt, of whale-fishing in Japan, of the Hot Balloon Ride over Borneo in the search of a frog, of getting stranded without papers in Rawalpindi, of his many conquests of exotic women(eight fifty two, in all); all of which the townsfolk took in enthusiastically but also being rational men and women, with a pinch of salt. Not that the punch-drunk troubadour ever seem to care. He was only too happy to drum it up for the listening ear.

He passed away in his dreams. His crumpled body was found by the undertaker’s apprentice Juan Ferrero who took it upon himself to ring the town bell announcing the loss. No one had any clue as to how the news spread. But by mid-noon, a procession of strangers began to enter town. Strange men and women, strange cars and even stranger hats and boots came to take one last look on that face, beatific and ever the fool, even in death. After the funeral, the Rio Hondo Bar erupted in an impromptu carnival. The town, plagued all year by pestilence, suddenly found the warmest of whisky poured down its soul bringing with it a glow in the grip of which it was impossible (to use a cliché) to forget life’s sorrows and celebrate. Senor Santiago would be never be anointed a saint but his heaven would be one with eight hundred and fifty two exotic angels.’

- Javier Reyes, The Gospel of Unknowns

Bangalore Film Society is proud to pay tribute to the masters of the greasy collars and hardened knuckles- Fuller, Imamura, Olmi, who roughed it up with the hard times and the hard life over a lifetime and two before they made their first film. When so much of cinema is about the cinema itself and less about life, to witness these masters at work is to be reminded of the glory and the beauty of the cinematic image. Their pursuit was neither realism nor the abstract. If you ask them- they told stories; and within these stories they saw and captured with their well-worn eyes, the poetry of life. Something the great Richard Linklater had in mind when he named his first film- It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books

Friday 30th October, 2009 Time: 6.30pm
Pick Up on South Street (80min/1953) Dir: Samuel Fuller

‘We have too many intellectuals who are afraid to use the pistol of common sense.’

A decorated infantryman who fought in the hellfire frontlines of war, an itinerant journalist who famously strapped a typewriter on his back riding cross country in box cars and freight trains, an insanely prolific writer of cheap lurid fiction; Samuel Michael Fuller- the veritable prince auteur, madman and shootist had survived all three lives, life and limb intact before he took his place behind the camera and leaving his indelible mark on the French Nouvelle Vague, The American Brat Pack, The Japanese and Icelandic New Waves all the way down to Tarantino. The seminal 50s noir ‘Pick Up on South Street’, one of his most influential masterpieces- a tale of petty pick-pocket who inadvertently finds himself embroiled in a high-level government conspiracy, is filled with the grit, wit, poetry and humanism that only Fuller could summon. Nominated for Golden Lion, Venice 54’.

Saturday 31st October, 2009 Time: 6.30pm
The Pornographers (128min/1966) Dir: Shohei Imamura

‘As for me, I'd like to destroy this premise that cinema is fiction.’

Never has cinema brimmed with the green glow of subversive glee as it has in the films of Shohei Imamura. Living among the ruins of post-war Japan, he spent several impressionable years working in the black markets of his country peddling cigarettes and alcohol. Not that he would complain, for in these gutters he found a found a world teeming with life and when he finally occupied the director’s chair, he bought all his love and obsession of the down, the deadbeat and the downright margins to the glory of the cinemascope. ‘The Pornographers’ widely regarded as the two time Palm D’Or winner’s early classic chronicles a seedy underworld of blue collar porno directors and gangsters and their friends and family as they do what they do, if only to get by in a world that doesn’t give a damn.

Sunday 1st November, 2009 Time: 6.30pm
Il Posto (93min/1961) Dir: Ermanno Olmi

‘There is another reason I am behind the camera. Because otherwise it would be like going up to a girl and saying, “I love you but now he’s going to kiss you for me.’

A son of peasant factory workers, Ermanno Olmi had it tough when at a tender age he had to support his family through World War 2 working as a clerk in an electric company. His experiences came together with his intuition as he went on to become a director with a unique aesthetic that seems to able to evoke the sorrow and the beauty of the world in the most commonplace of things. ‘Il Posto’ is a masterwork, a tender coming of age tale of young boy who travels from his village to the town in search of unemployment only to find himself on the wrong end of the absurd structure that society has arranged itself in. Winner of the Film Critics Award at Venice 61’.

Venue: Ashirvad, 30, St. Mark's Road cross, Op. State Bank of India



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