Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Movie Bytes

I watched ‘Da Vinci Code’ and I really, really liked it. (One has now stopped taking mindless rickshaw rides to save money to visit the Louvre.) I think Tom Hanks was perfectly cast as the quiet and erudite professor and the girl was adorable. Lilting French accent, clear, innocent eyes, ability to run on high heels – is that perfect or what? My favorite character was the ‘Teacher’ though. Wicked, yes, but a wonderful sense of humor. I remember seeing him in some other very popular film, but I can’t remember which one. Maybe he played a role in ‘Gladiator’ or maybe in ‘A Beautiful Mind’ or..I could just keep naming all the Ron Howard films, but it is likely that he has acted for other directors.

So, as things stand, I have really liked the film. As for it not being as good as the book (as ageless as that contention is), I didn’t think the book was a literary masterpiece either. It was a story waiting to be a screenplay. And that’s what happened. Nice, but not extraordinary and ‘one of the best books ever written?’..I mean, really!

In my opinion, the movies that have really failed the books they are based on have been ‘Godfather’ (all of those Coppola films that went on endlessly.) I understand ‘Godfather’ was also directed by a Peruvian director, who is said to have done more justice to the spirit of the novel but I have my doubts. I have read THE Puzo novel and other Puzo novels, not as familiar but just as good (‘The Sicilian’, for example) sitting on a bench at Bandra Station for 5 hours. That’s how it ‘had’ me. Nothing else comes close. Nothing else ever came close to coming close.

Another book-to-movie letdown is ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (all of them – the TV series, the movies, the TV plays, the ‘produced only for BBC’ shows – every single one of them.) No matter how many times the story of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is told, re-told, interpreted, adapted, essayed, depicted, etc. etc. you still judge the caliber of the film by how it portrays the spark between Darcy and Elizabeth. It’s a timeless litmus test. You can have the costumes, the settings, the virgin, rough English countryside, excellent walks, well-orchestrated balls, fancy tea-parties…you could even have cast Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy perfectly (they could be great by themselves), but it all boils down to ‘how are they together?’ That play of wind and fire, the jostle of ‘tongue-in-cheek’ charm and ‘pearls-before-swines’ demeanor. While in many movies, Elizabeth rises to the occasion of portraying the classic Jane Austen character, Darcy usually falls short. Somehow, most actors in this role seem to equate sang-froid with looking like a cardboard. And when they must portray their ‘softening’ emotions towards Elizabeth, they are quite reminiscent of a cardboard that got soggy in tap water. The very worst let-down of the aloof gentleman, of course, was the guy with Aishwarya in Bride and Prejudice. Darcy is not supposed to be intimidated by Elizabeth, for God’s sakes. He was more Archie than Darcy, frankly.

Hmm, now getting to the point that I had to make..well…it was an interesting point but now I can’t remember…mustn’t get distracted by people’s screensavers..drat! Yes! I’ve got it now.

While watching ‘Da Vinci Code’, I had the kind of movie experience I hadn’t had in ages.

First, it was House-Full (and not just on the boards near the ticket-counter, but really, there were no empty seats.)

Secondly, and most astoundingly, I didn’t hear one mobile phone call attention to its quotidian purpose of disturbing people at very odd times.

Whatever it be said of the film, it certainly got people to behave.


madhavan said...

Tom Hanks is wasted in the role and the movie just did not grip for me. The novel was equally so-so.

And btw, Gladiator is Ridley Scott, not Ron Howards.

And as for where you saw the Teacher, how about Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, or Magneto in X Men.

Mukta said...

Hi Madhavan,

Long time!

Yes, made an error with 'gladiator'. I was mistaking it with another flick. Horrors! I know, but...

Hmm..'Gandalf, yes..but actually, I think I remember him from some place else. And X-men - nope, haven't seen it.

And Tom Hanks - wasted?! Come on!

doubtinggaurav said...


OK as I said before I didn't like it (This is an understatement) and thought it was a disappointment over novel.

Noe I would not go over literary merit of novel, what can I say in its defense is that it is a gripping yarn (notwithstanding terrible language and liberty with history).That and a veritable treasure trove of trivia relating to christianity (again not of scholarly value, but clearly entertainment takes precedence over erudition)

On the contrary at no point of time I felt any excitement while watching the movie, further the narration was very blande and in no way comparable to novel.

And for some reason Tom Hanks was looking sullen.

Also agree with Godfather part, the movie seemed too morose to me.

Also I will prefer Spartacus over Gladiator any day (Kirk douglas wasnothing if not dashing in those days)

(Here I confess I am a beyond - redemption fan of escapist/masal fare that Indian cinema dish out)

One of the good adaptations of literary works are Lord Of The Rings (Trilogy) and Apoclapyse Now
(Heart Of The Darkness)

I think you should go and watch King Kong, it is a pretty decent movie

Blythe Spyryt said...

Amen :) I am sooo glad to hear of someone liking the film...and im dying to watch it too...this weekend! Crossing my fingers tightly!

karmic_jay said...

Gandalf is Ian McKellen. He was also in "Gods and Monsters" for which I believe he won an academy award. He was also in six degrees of separation among other movies.

Tom Hanls was miscast if you compare to the character Langdon in the book.

Ash said...

The female leada is played by Audrey Tatou ... if you liked her, you must watch Amelie. It's a charming French film, that I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy :)

madhavan said...

Chiffonesque, I am an unadulterated Tom Hanks fan. I even liked him in Castaway and that took some trying. But he had nothing to do in this movie except look pensive

Alka said...

Mukta thank you so much for writing "The brave new world?" I want to thank you for that post here, because its looking cho cute. What? 0 comments!!

oglidonkee said...

Wud agree with Madhavan on that.
T Hanks wasted big time!!

And the movie , Muks have u managed to read the novel? Well if yes then it would be easy to understand the movie if no ... did you really grasp any bit of the movie?

They did not even lay stress on the splendour of those stupendous architectures!

It just sped away as another commercial yarn.


Rabin said...

i could have laid a bet that if there was someone who;d like this movie it must have been you :)

Meeta said...


Your POVs on other movie letdowns attracted my attention more than the review of DVC itself (am not about to get into that discussion just yet, not until I see the film, that is).

some great writing otherwise!

and it was good running into u the other day in Mumbai. :)

Warble said...

Mugsy, you disappoint me!

"Teacher" was Gandalf elsewhere as others have pointed out; Tom Hanks was weird in long hair; the movie was strangely lack-lustre and nowhere near as interesting as the book (which actually read like a movie script). And I entered Eros late and almost fell down the stairs and broke my neck because the screen was too dark to show me the way. Kind of symptomatic of the whole movie.

And the Godfather trilogy is undoubtedly the finest trilogy ever made! It is a certifiable classic! It ranks up there with Macbeth, Julius Caesar and King Lear as an exploration of Man's ability to shoot himself in the foot while kicking himself in the balls. (Kind of like some of the World Cup footer teams, come to think of it.)

I think ladies don't go for the Godfather because of the lack of strong lady roles that they can identify with. But that's the authenticity of those movies. Sad, but true.