Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

One Shake of Many

Not A Review – Joker

With the 11 Oscar nominations announced today, “Joker” hardly needs endorsement from me. As an undemanding Batman fan, when I entered the cinema on 11th October to watch, the outcome was pre-determined. I went in wanting to be blown away and things went to plan.

It wasn’t very long ago that even the thought of a serious superhero movie would be laughed at. That was before Christopher Nolan lent his edginess to the genre. “Joker”, though not a Nolan movie, descended further into that well of darkness.

The tone of the movie was consistently dismal, damp houses, rainy days and cruel characters not even offering any relief by way of humour. No real attempt at empathy with the mentally ill is made either. If anything, it will only add to the many misconceptions that the general audience have about mental health and stereotype those afflicted as unpredictably dangerous.

Put that together with a plotline that holds zero surprises – terrible things happen to a quiet guy, whom the audience already knows to be Arthur Fleck a.k.a. the future Joker, after which he goes on to become the clown prince of crime – and the rave reviews do seem like overkill. Therein lay the Director, Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix’s rare achievement.

“Joker” is testimony to the power that clich├ęs still have, at least on me, no matter how much the critics hate them. With a potent mix of music, lights and emotions, the Director successfully manipulated me into cheering for Arthur’s transformation from wimp to monster. I would have never thought that I had it in me to cheer for a character who was dancing down the stairs after stabbing a man through his eye… but there I was doing exactly that!

As the Joker stepped onto the hood of a car, surrounded by adoring rioters and put on the famous blood drawn smile, my mind flashed away to a dark caped figure poised on the gargoyle of a distant skyscraper, even though in the movie’s world, he was still a small boy weeping in an alley. By existing in all his psychotic glory, the Joker ensured that the Batman had a purpose.

It was then that the message hit home. Much as we may try to do away with what we define as evil, its primary purpose is to give the good something to be busy with.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Trail Tale

It’s the opposite of Netflix.

There is no content on demand and it couldn’t care less about what you want to watch next. A twisting path laid through a patch of forest finding its feet again, the trail at WII is many things to many people. What it isn’t is predictable.

The disinterested world is never too far away and syrupy devotional songs blaring out from unattended loudspeakers as buildings besiege the campus walls. Miraculously enough, our fort holds.

The raucous grey hornbills feasting and fighting; the confident trilling of the little black-chinned babbler; the splosh with which the spot-billed ducks swim away as I approach the trail section skirting the pond – sounds of distinctly analog nature find a way through and like the sunlight filtering through the sal, raise the shield of resilience. Beyond the walls, there is the thriving partnership of cement, concrete and the cash economy; inside in a space that is conspicuously small, wander those who have little use for the holy trifecta.

Through sunrises, afternoons and sunsets, I delight in the trail’s moods and revere the uncertainty of what’s around the corner. I tramp through its lanes, claiming kinship with its leaves and beasts, sampling its seasonal cast – birds, blooms, butterflies. Even on a day of no surprises, I soar in self-congratulatory joy at nothing more than having had the opportunity.

When the mongoose family looks me in the eye and trots on fearless, when the black-winged stilts swirl around in mesmerizing formation above the water surface or the nervous jackal finally finds the courage to cross the trail despite this troublesome biped looking on, I feel a twinge of uncertainty.

It’s hard to shake off the questions – is plain curiosity about the trail’s mysteries reason enough, is dedicated enjoyment of its displays purpose enough, and is simply writing about it duty enough?