Thursday, December 13, 2007

The big "WHYs" of my life

Why is it that the line that I happen to be in is the slowest moving one?
Sorry about the pessimism guys but I just spent twenty minutes yesterday waiting for my turn at the gas station while cars on either side of me simply rolled away. Apparently one of the valves or pump (or whatever it is they have at gas stations) at the end of my line was not working.
If this happened once in a while it would be acceptable. Annoying but acceptable, but this kind of thing happening every single time is downright freaky.
My ability to randomly pick the line that has something or the other slowing it down is now beginning to amaze me.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Kingdom of Heaven

I love history. What happened ages ago, fascinates me. How it happened, interests me even more?
But the annoying thing about historic events is that they get shrouded by the veil of time. Like age old trees that acquire a new layer each year, this veil gets progressively thicker until the details become too hazy to be clearly seen and understood. Each one of us then endeavors to locate peep holes to look beyond this thick curtain, hence each one of us sees differently depending upon the limited vision allowed to us by the unique angle of our individual peep holes.
The result: multiple versions of a single event. We often find ourselves believing in the more appealing version rather than the more accurate version.
I recently saw the movie based on one such historic event, the conquest of Jerusalem. The film was “Kingdom of Heaven”. It was not the best one that I had ever seen; still, it wasn’t too bad.
I have seen enough of Hollywood films to know what to expect. However, there were a few unexpected things about this movie. First of all, this was the first English language film I saw that did not portray the Muslims as brainless, heartless barbarians.
I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised. Apparently somebody in Hollywood has the guts to look through peepholes other than their own.
On the whole I liked the film. There was some fair bit of acting there by a number of people. Here a few that impressed me.
I have never considered Orlando bloom to be a handsome man. The only time he has looked presentable to me was as Legolas in “Lord of the Rings”. I was however, fairly impressed with him as Balian of Ibelin in Kingdom of Heaven. I read somewhere that he put on 20 pounds for the role. (That would explain the absence of all those bones and joints that always seem to be jutting out at odd angles from him) If he has any sense he would keep those 20 pounds on, that is, if he hasn’t lost them already. (Sorry Bloom I admired the acting but I did not become enough of a fan to follow up on your weight dynamics)
Seriously, it was not his physical appearance that impressed me but rather his acting skills. I think he played the role very well. During the first 10 minutes of the film he barely says more than a few words, yet you are able to feel the aggression, frustration and anger inside his character (see critics I am taking about Hollywood stars after all)
Now that is what I call acting. Not delivering the right dialogues or wearing the right period costumes, but becoming the character in such a way that the inner turmoil of the character oozes out of every pore.
Another actor that left its mark was Edward Norton who played Baldwin IV, the leper King of Jerusalem.With no part of his face visible except his eyes, he used the tone of voice to portray himself as a wretched character. For a man with an iron face (or what ever metal it was that he wore) he succeeded in allowing his pain to seep through the metallic mask and become visible to the audience. You can’t help feeling sorry for the cursed young king who desperately tries to hold on to a turbulent kingdom.
Brendan Gleeson didn't do a bad job either as Raynald of Chatillon. He is evil in a comical sort of way.
The important personality from the Muslim side was that of my all time favorite, Salahudin Ayyubi. He is shown as a dignified and righteous ruler in the film.
The part that the film makers really muddled up was the relationship between Balian and Sybella. I don’t think the two of them were ever romantically involved nor has there ever been any record of Balian's illegitimacy.
Personally I don’t care much if Balian and Sybella were romantically involved or not. We only get annoyed if our favorite characters from history get misrepresented and my favorite historical character is not Balian of Ibelin and it is certainly not Sybella either. I am just glad that Salahudin’s actual persona was not marred in any way.
As I said before, not a bad film after all.