Friday, February 22, 2008

Random Thoughts*

So last night I watched Sweet Land. The movie spans eighty or so odd years in the life of Inge, a German mail order bride who arrives at small town in the Minnesota of 1920’s, to wed Olaf, a shy, Norwegian homesteader. But pretty soon we know there will be no wedding. Inge is German and her coffee is too black, reason enough for the townsfolk (lead by a confused priest) to shun her and Olaf. How they come around to accept her and how Olaf and Inge fall in love is a story told over a period of two hours by an older Inge to her grandson, Lars.

The dialogue is as sparse as the Minnesota winter landscape. Inge’s staccato bursts of German are not subtitled and her English dialogue is minimal. Together these two, little details convey her sense of alienation beautifully. What remains unsaid is more important than what is actually said in this movie. The landscapes and the story are decidedly American yet the treatment feels very non Hollywood and this got me thinking about what makes a film feel European/Indie and what makes it pure Hollywood? Apart from the accents, clothes, art sensibilities, one of the most important differences is probably the way sound is treated.

In Hollywood every on screen millisecond is lush with sound. There is no place for pin drop silence. There is always something mundane going on in the background. If an onscreen couple is having a serious discussion (one of them has been cheating on the other) in their kitchen; apart from the conversation you will probably hear a TV somewhere deep within the house which will establish that the couple has kids. The family dog will wander into the kitchen and soon the woman will feel a sudden urge to do dishes and there will be more pots clattering and china clinking in the sink. And if a third character decides to join our hyper active Hollywood couple in their cacophonic kitchen, the audience will hear his car pull up into the driveway in Dolby Digital before he even walks in.

On the surface of things, there is nothing wrong with Hollywood’s version except that when a couple is discussing something as serious as an extra marital fling there is a fair chance that they may tune out the background white noise. And this is usually what happens if someone on the outer fringes of Hollywood was to recreate the same scene. Without the background clutter, the same scene has more meaning and audience can almost feel the heaviness of the air in the kitchen without bothering to take in and analyze the other mundane, irrelevant details.

Anyways, now onto more silly stuff. Apparently Smita wants to know more about us. However this was something that David sent my way a long time ago. Too much blog love, I tell you. In my defense, I tried writing something pithy, witty and fun and then forgot about it. So here comes, freshly rescued (thanks to Smita) from the piles of unfinished drafts that reside in some dank corner of this webspace - seven somewhat random things about me:

  1. I am crazy about cinema. I frequently prowl around these sites. I have a little box full of movie stubs. I have been known to judge people by the movies on their Netflix list. Didn't you read the first few paragraphs of this post?
  2. I am not at all picky when it comes to food. I will eat anything that is plonked on to my plate, at least once.
  3. I am obsessed with making lists. Shopping lists, to do list, things to discuss with Boy list, books to read list, books not to read list, tens ways to unobtrusively get out of this boring meeting list, laundry list, things to buy when I have a truckload of money list, list of lists….
  4. I love small cars. I drive a 2006 Toyota Corolla with a stick shift and absolutely adore it, dimpled bottom** and all. I cannot imagine upgrading to anything other than a Prius.
  5. I have an incredible memory for all sorts of irrelevant stuff and sometimes I am even embarrased that I remember such weird little details. Sex life of the seahorse, anyone?
  6. The mere sight of a largish water body is enough to make me feel like twiddling my toes in it. It goes back to the days when we were all little fishy’s in the ocean, I am told.
  7. I think diamonds are way overated and so are chocolate and flowers. An exceptionally good piece of chocolate...may be, but offer me a luscious piece of tiramisu and you totally had me at "T". By the way books, will work just fine.
*Yay! Did you read the title? It says Random Thoughts....woo, hoo! I finally get to do a post with two of the hottest words in blogdom ever, in one title. Totally random, totally cool!

** Euphemism for dented bumper


David said...

Good list Anyesha! I am a list-maker too!

Smita said...

Thanks a ton :)and a greatlist!