Monday, January 10, 2005

Review - Raincoat

I have just become a big fan of Rituparmo Ghosh having watched only one film of his - Raincoat. It's a poignant film that deals with nostalgia and has to be one of the better films that i have seen this summer.

Two estranged lovers meet again and pretend that life has turned out really well for them. The setting matches the mood - an old dark house in hues of blue and grey, filled with furniture, no electricity, the windows are shut and its raining outside. The background sounds are muffled. This is where the main part of the film, i.e. their meeting is set. The real world is outside, inside, in the dark, they act out their pretence. There are flashbacks to the past, but these are small and deal with a particular moment and emotion connecting the past and present.
Midway through their meeting, the woman leaves the house and a stranger enters. The windows are opened, outside light and sound pervade inside and the curtain is drawn from their pretence. The true story emerges but the intrusion is so sudden and brief that you are left wondering whether there is more to the story. But then the woman returns, the stranger leaves, the windows are shut and we are once again back into the pretense. In the dark and quiet, nostalgia for the way things were reawakens.

The story is beautifully told. No songs, thank god. The background score and the dialogues are local, rustic, appropriately reflecting the character of small town people in a large city. Its a well choreographed film with beautiful poetry, a must see.

Links to other reviews:

My Thesis

Two and a half months since i finished my thesis, the trauma is over and i can finally talk and write about it without shuddering. The thesis was a big chapter in my life (i spent a whole year on it) and it thus merits atleast one post. But because its a fairly big topic, i'll break it into more than one post.

The thesis was on "Privacy and Security in Personalized Ubiquitous Systems". The basic idea was that you should be able to store a profile with your interests on a mobile device (smart phones, PDA etc) and then walk into a shop and get personalized service based on the information that the shop owner retrieves from your profile. And this must happen in a manner that protects your privacy. The shop would ofcourse need some ubiquitous infrastructure (google if you dont know what ubiquitous is) to interact with your device and retrieve information from it.

Long posts are tiring for the reader and the blog-writer. My solution, screenshots and related links in later posts.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Review - The Violent Land by Jorge Amado

Jorge Amado is a Brazilian writer and wrote this novel in 1942. The novel's story is basically about the struggle between an aristocratic family, the Badaros, and a middle-class planter Colonel Horacio Silveira for a crucial piece of land for the growing of cacao. Amado's true subject--and one he frequently comes back to--is the effect of the Bahia region's vast cacao plantations on the local citizens and the communities in which they live. Having heard a lot about Amado, the novel was somewhat of a letdown. The book was written in Portuguese and i read an English translation, so perhaps i should blame the translation.

The novel's flow continously varies; it's frustratingly slow at times, describing in detail the local vegetation, customs, the people and their characters. At other times, it quickly skips over long periods of time, e.g., the first section deals with the boat trip and the following sections takes the reader some years after the trip. The main characters in the novel are the 'colonels' who own the cacao plantations and their hired killers (there was a Portuguese term for them that i forgot). Through the main plot (the struggle between the Badaros and Colonel Horacio), Amado provides us with a window into that period and how continous cyclic violence shaped people's lives. We are confronted with a lawless land to which the allure of quick money draws people and from which few return alive and unchanged. In the story, Amado continously returns to the local topography drawing a parallel between the violence perpetuated by the colonels and their thugs, and the surrounding forests. The image thus is of a land seeped in violence both natural and man-made and thus the novel's title.