Anomalisa

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Charlie Kaufman’s movies are always strange. So, going in for Anomalisa, I was prepared for strangeness – but even then, the strangeness unsettled me, as it was meant to. Kauffman uses the strange to exaggerate the common, but also to better highlight the distance of alienation. Continue reading

Too loud a solitude – Bohumil Hrabal

When I start reading I’m somewhere completely different, I’m in the text, it’s amazing, I have to admit I’ve been dreaming, dreaming in a land of great beauty, I’ve been in the very heart of truth. Ten times a day, every day, I wonder at having wandered so far, and then, alienated from myself, a stranger to myself, I go
home, walking the streets silently and in deep meditation, passing trams and cars and pedestrians in a cloud of books, the books I found that day and am carrying home in my briefcase

A small volume by Czech writer Hrabal, Too loud a solitude is a love story. A love story with books, and strangely a love story with work. It is ironical that the protagonist destroys both his loves constantly, because each love comes in the way of the other. Continue reading

My library of shorts

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Short stories

I am a lover of short stories, and I constantly keep my hunt on for them. I enjoy them most in their online form – mostly because I can easily return to these versions.So here is what I think I will do in this post. I will list down all the short stories I find online and slowly build up a collection. I will try to rate them as per my own interest, and if possible, review some. But mostly, I will just curate the ones I like. I will pin this post and keep adding to it as I go.

Even if one reader stumbles on one beautiful story from this page, it will be worth my time.
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The original question

The question of how the Universe began is to me the biggest question of our lives. It is something that puzzles us, astounds us, makes us spend hours pondering, debating with people around, mostly pointlessly. Because we cannot answer this sitting in the drawing room. (Though it is strange that a question of that magnitude cannot be answered through field studies – the answer, if at all, will come out of a drawing board or a computer someday) It inevitably runs into the question of belief – whether God or a supreme being exists, one that made the grand design, or whether it all came into existence out of nowhere, through some yet undiscovered scientific phenomenon.

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Wallander – the troubled detective

Kurt Wallander is a grim man. Whether you meet him in books, or in the TV series, you will seldom see him (or read about him) smile. Both Branagh & Henriksson, who have played him in the English & the Swedish series, know this well. In fact, Branagh has even admitted to visiting flower shows to cheer himself up from the starkness of his screen life.

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This way for the gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

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I am sometimes embarassed of my interest in holocaust literature. There is something morbid about wanting to read the tales of death chambers, of cattle cars, of people being pulled out of their homes in middle of the night.
And yet, it is such a bizarre side of reality – something so humongous and beyond understanding, that I feel compelled to know more, to understand what happened. The many books and many films on the topic mostly share the survivor tales, or tales of tragedy – the after-effects of the holocaust (or more appropriately “Shoah”). These tales, the most beautifully written ones, like from Sebald, or Kertesz – bring to fore the sense of loss, the disorientation, which goes far beyond the actual physical act of mass-murder. But there is little written or said to explain the perpetration, what went on in the minds of the tormentor and the tortured when the physical act was being carried out. How did a whole machinery get convinced to participate in the barbarism? What went on in the minds of people in the camps, seeing the fumes from the chimney?

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Jagten (The Hunt)

Does a misunderstanding or misconception ever correct itself? In stories, misconceptions often place themselves at the center, sometimes spinning the entire tale around. Mostly, in the end, people speak up, and miraculously the fog lifts.
Not so in the crisp and stony reality from Thomas Vinterberg. In his movie, he marks out how it is not enough to be acquitted from a court trial, and certainly not enough to have done nothing wrong. Long after being cleared, doubts persist and hunt the accused – may be in reality or may be in his own mind.
Lucas, a nursery teacher at the center of this drama, is wrongfully accused of sexual conduct in front of a child. A child who is his best friend’s daughter and who he is very fond of. The small town discounts the many years in which it has know Lucas to be a charming, lovable person in face of a child’s thoughtless accusation. The paranoia of parents at the thought of sending their child to a potential predator everyday spirals out of control. Suddenly, all parents begin to see signs of molestation in their own children. The children work themselves up in a hysteria where they begin to remember an evening in Lucas’ basement alone with him.
The image remarks how immaterial it is that the basement does not exist. There are moments when, as a viewer I began to wonder if indeed it lies hidden elsewhere, even when I had been privy to the wrongfulness of the accusation from the very beginning. Mass perception has a way of becoming reality. Aided by the insecurity people have for their children, and in the unshakable (but really quite questionable) faith that children are always honest and innocent, this perception becomes wildly accepted, even by the band of brothers Lucas has grown up with.
This remarkable hold on rumor and the hazard it poses – this is what makes The hunt the best film I have watched this year. Mads Mikkelsen’s performance and the mood-landscape is a treat on top. Even though this film goes against the severe principles of Dogme, somehow the use of editing and cinematography adds to the stark reality and therefore appears to follow the Dogme in spirit.

 

Herland

Incidentally, all of my last few posts have been based on the readings from SF and Fantasy course on Coursera. Things are a little hectic in work and in life otherwise, that I am reading little outside of the course syllabus. The course is coming to a close, and as insightful as it has been, I am also eager to resume my regular reading.
A couple of weeks back, we were reading Charlotte Gilman’s Herland and Burroughs’ Princess of Mars. The two books could not be more different, and yet there were some common threads running between them. While Princess of Mars was a dominantly ‘masculine’ book – with heroes, fights and men saving damsels, Herland was feminine, even if not in the traditional sense of the world.

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