Faces of Fear.

via-clapsandboos

Half a century ago, a British film was released just a few months before the famous Psycho. It was called Peeping Tom.

It rarely peeped into anything after that. This movie is considered to be both Powell’s beginning and end to finding himself in cinema wizardry.

This is why.

Sadly ,this movie is so ahead of its time and sense that it got severely boo-ed from the theatres and into sickening dark corners of movie libraries ,where , Psycho was in the limelight and frequently borrowed for aesthetic references.

Powell subsided himself from creating anything drastic after that. It is no doubt that Psycho was a cinematic genius.

But it gets interesting when it is known that Scorsese was one of the well known,very few admirers of Powell’s work.

The early 60s paved way to great asthetic knowledge of lights and montage cinema from both Hitchcock and Powell.

Peeping Tom was reacted with such disgust since it suggested looking rather than mere watching/seeing.

Scopophilic Macabre Voyeurism.

Peeping Tom.

Mark Lewis is a shy photographer who is working to become a director some day. But as a hobby he takes pictures of hookers on top of an agent store, which sell these pictures to people for penis pleasure.

One day in his own house,he meets Helen who lives downstairs (he lets out rooms)with her mom on her 21st birthday and she nearly meets him, his heart and his deranged mind.

Mark’s dad (played by Powell) was a brilliant man.

A scientist who studied the faces of fear.

He was amidst a study of the nervous system and its stimuli for fear.He used his own son as a subject and recorded his reactions for shocks.. Such as waking him up from sleep by flasing light on him, throwing a lizard on bed etc.

Mark’s childhood miseries were recorded and voyeured to every minute sensory detail. But he is soon obssessed with the camera ,his dad gift’s him.

Its an inane part of him now.

A tool to help him continue what his dad had seen and studied.

He studies the faces of fear by killing people while simultaneously recording their faces . (He has a knife/sharp-end arrangement at the foot of his tripod)

Powell achieved intangibilty by making the audience see what he saw and this is real psyche study he has done.

Mark Lewis and Helen.

It was groundbreaking and literally made people sick not for his implied murder scenes, but making the audience enter Mark’s head and vision. Implying horror might be easy , but implying the audience into a part of a sick voyeur is ingenius.

There is a scene where Helen sees what Mark has been doing . For all this while, the camera which had been telling us a story via the screen in Mark’s room ,turns a complete curve and fetches the face of the horrorstruck Helen. We are/become Mark for that instant and witness pure horror.

The movie crosses the boundary of aesthetic rules ,and mere implications and suggestions have become a brute reality.

Peeping Tom achieves the unachievable.

Mark’s dark screening room where he sits and watches his movies is similar to the dark theatre where we sit and watch.

Films are repeated acts of perspective shifts .

Theater is the dark place where we voyuer on the people we see, we hear and listen .

We are quiet while we witness it.

Now ,even though all this was not recognised in his time ,it was repeatedly and passionately tried to revive by Scorsese.

He remastered and re-released some of Powell’s earlier lost works. Scorsese’s editor Thelma Schoonmaker (won 3 oscars) who later fell in love with him and his work , was married to him till his death.

Scorsese was/is also one of those who believe that film-making is a violent practice and that photographing someone is like taking a part of that someone’s soul.

That is why ,he makes movies as though his life depends on it. In his commentary in Goodfellas Blue ray , Thelma Schoonmaker the editor says that Marty used to worry so much about each and every thing that he rarely used to sleep.

Both in Roger Ebert’s book about Scorsese and in James Lipton’s guest in the show Inside the Actor’s Studio, he was questioned about his deep involvements in his projects physically , mentally and psychologically and Scorsese was seen quietly nodding with guilty acceptance.

This is where Peeping Tom transcends in to more than just film

No wonder why his movies release such energy. and Michael Powell was his infamous idol.

So if anyone is interested in how he managed to paint the roads of the Taxi Driver or from where he learnt his lighting tricks in Mean Streets,

Peeping Tom is your source.

“Whatever I photograph, I always lose.”

Mind your Mind.

Roughly two weeks back , Roger Ebert ,the great American-Movie pundit tweeted, If Nolan’s “Inception” is even half as good as Anne Thompson(a critic) says it is, I’ll be gob-smacked.

His review later for Chicago Suntimes shouts out loud that he was , well , gob-smacked.

Christopher Nolan has ideas.

Nolan.

Ideas that endure the limits of screen but Zimmer(who joined in later during Batman Begins ) takes care of his films’ inceptions.

Nolan’s intelligence in film structuring is what has baffled many ,the most.

He likes to create mazes/puzzles, make it more and more complex that beyond a point, it really doesn’t matter and you surrender to the inception of his mere simple idea and yes, He likes to seed it in the deepest of the deepest minds.

No wonder all his characters are lost .

Be it The Young Man in Following , played by Jeremy Theobald who also acted in his first short movie , Doodlebug or Leonard(Guy Pearce) or Will Dormer (Al Pacino) or Alfred Borden and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) or Tony Cobb (Di Caprio). All characters are strongly wound by tight guilt and powered with extreme will and brain.

Inception was Nolan’s second fully original piece and it took him almost 8 and a half years to complete. It ruffles up the theatres for the much talked about dream within a dream within a dream concept and people shouting “this guy is mad yaaar!!”and “Woah!! it blew my mind”. Yeah ,It has some noteworthy graphics which were absolutely necessary and both the bright-striped bermuda gang of elite boys and the thick-rimmed nerds were baffled out of their respective seats from row A and D.

Cobb is a dream extractor, a dream thief.

That one who can enter your dream and lure you to own it. Simply put he is a mind thief, stealing ideas from rich ,corporate men.

He is hired by a powerful billionaire, Saito (Ken Watanabe) or so was teased into doing the exact opposite. Planting/seeding an idea into a rival-mogul, Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy) such that he believes that it was his own. A process of inception.

Leads.

From there on, it didn’t matter whether it was Nolan or DiCaprio who lead the story.

Cobb needs a new architect to create his dreamscapes which continuously shift. He himself was ,once a great architect but is scared genuinely for his dead wife ,Mal,(Marion Cottilard) fuels his guilt and kills him in his dream and thus he might wake up. Guilt , why ?

He had seeded in an idea of escapism , that whatever is real might not be real in fact. It is a dream and what we dream is reality. Death is the only escape. Her escapist view seeded in by Cobb himself grows beyond reach and control , drving her mad on their anniversary night to her demise.

Cobb sulks and sinks into infinite,comfortable guilt searching and recreating memories and living decades with her projection in his mind and now it has become impossible for him to forget/avoid her in his dreams.

Still.

Thus enters Ellen Page (Adriane), the inquisitive architect recommended by our-beloved Michael Caine as Miles , Cobb’s father-in-law. She screws with the metaphysics just as she enters.

The film engulfs Cobb’s character in the background with Robert Fischer Jr’s take being the center plot. This was done with perfection that the parallel nature was revealed only in the final minutes, with Cobb overcoming his guilt and Fischer’s falling prey to the subtle ,most important of all faked details.

Page and DiCaprio.

Cobb works with his long time associate , Arthur (Joeseph Gordon Lewitt), very good after 500 days of summer. Entering people’s minds and forging their projections is Eames (Tom Hardy) , working along with a chemist , Yusuf (Dileep Rao) for staged sedation.

We create things in our heads to make ourselves comfortably present. But are we really present ? The perpetuating cycle of creating and percieving is seperated by an intangible , invisible line of unexplained void of questions, explains Nolan.

This is were he wants to undertake his own inception along with a ready audience and he has succeeded I must say.

The movie is metaphysically personal to Nolan in many ways.His characters of Eames, Adriane, Arthur , Saito and Yusuf are much like his own’s projections of conviction and goals so as to perform the perfect inception on us.

But,He seems to be subconciously secure.

Nolan’s ambiguity hits later, unlike Haneke’s. The idea of him telling his own wife an explanation for her insanity, who seems to be his subconscious mind and later her break of tears into remorseful submission puts you unaware of space, place and time, and that is when you begin to question reality.

The film seemed to have a lot of talking an explaining , but irony is that the last 5 minutes of shocked and utter speechlessness of Cobb ,says it all.

Nolan is as bewildered as the audience gaping into the face of a new idea. The first scene and the last scene connect and he still gapes . So do we, when the totem , as predicted dearly and affectionately was not shown with any real result .

totem.

Cobb could see his children’s faces now, because he has let go of his wife/guilt.

It is amazing how people’s mind works.

For anyone who has seen Richard Linklater’s Waking Life, the theory is just accentuated with credible visual treatment , for others it is just really the birth of an Idea.

Lastly I would like to say,Nolan’s climb in film integrity is becoming steeper along with the likes of Powell and Scorsese for now he has announced that film-making is as personal as it can get.

Nolan’s tribute to Kubrick, who said,”If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.”

“If we are gonna perform Inception then we need Imagination.”

Uncertain waters.

Why does the Graduate make sense even after so many films made after it?
Why does it cringe you to accept its one of the best films ever made?
Why does it baffle you, everytime you see it?
You got to see it for youself .
It is such a perfect imperfect movie that it reminds you of how uncertainity can cloud the brightest times .
Benjamin Braddock is a character lived through centuries .
He ,has graduated in a respected family ,has been force-willed into doing almost anything, say here, to perform ‘daring feats’ in a scuba diving gear under 6ft in a swimming pool on his birthday in front of a crowd.
He is celebrated.
He despises it and by default has gotten , a worry.
A worry about the future he says to everyone he meets.
He dislikes to be centered and the claustrophobic camera in the family party seems to be tense and eager to get a bit of Benji.
The film sets stage for the young meat ,identified through the ‘funny feelings’ of the prey, swallowed with a drunken elegance by predating cougars,who make a subtle sticky irresistable web.

Benjamin Braddock and Mrs.Robinson.

He is soon smoothly pulled into a seduction (which has been talked about for the past forty-three years )set by Mrs. Robinson ,wife of his dad’s closest friend and business partner .
Anne Bancroft was 36 ( Hoffman 30) when she did the role but somehow she takes the effort in extending the gap, through her removing-earrings bit which was a celebrated cult in TV.
Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft.
Benjamin Braddock was/is in no doubt in doubt.
He wanted to do and not to be told what to do.
He wanted to grab the future of his age and wanted it to be different.
He leaps for it , he comes through choices but is slapped by uncertainity.
Symbolisms,
When he opens the door for a group of old exiting the Taft Hotel , he sees a group of the young entering at the same time.
He hears the sound of silence as how the fishes inside the aquarium hear.
He often plunges into deep waters in his swimming pool , into a peaceful isolation.
People watch the fishes , but rarely can they hear them.
Their cries for suicidal freedom.
He says,“I am 20 , I’ll be 21 next week” and Mr.Robinson reminisces and replies,“Thats a helluva good age to be.”
Weirdly it this crux, the film transcends to explore.
There is a scene where Benjamin asks Mrs.Robinson to make a conversation and after an useless rebuttle he figures he still got to be in the uncertain waters.
He says , “Lets just not talk anymore” and undresses.
It is the uncertain phase that the film concentrates and that has what made the film an unforgettable one.
Things change when Benjamin meets Elaine, Mrs.Robinson’s daughter.
Mrs.Robinson asks him not to take her out, so Benjamin now, has to take her out.
She tries to straddle him with fake threats of announcing the affair out-loud to make him stop meeting her daughter.
This not only angers Benjamin but just clears his reason to do what he wanted.
He falls for Elaine all of a sudden.
Falling into an illusion of farewell-hope mixed with innocent deadly love.
He wants to be normal, not to have an affair with a person twice his age.
He feels free.
He announces to his parents, “Iam going to marry Elaine Robinson.”
He himself is not sure of what he said and what he meant.
A beautiful textbook reads out loud, during the second act, where a romantic comedy unfolds with a touch of the 60s realism intervening and supporting each scene.
Allthough , what surprises me the most is how it was edited, that it would be a cult for all the hundreds/thousands of romantic movies that would come and entice you with their romantic humour , those dual dialogues and the heroine’s inevitable kiss before she leaves a lovestruck hero.
Katharine Ross as Elaine is a fellow fish in the sea, confused and dazzled at Benjamin.
A fellow ,default-rebel .
At the climax,she turns at her parents ,who curse at Benjamin when he interferes with her wedding and that is all what she needed.
She decided ,she is going to run.
Ben and Elaine.
She is going to marry Benjamin and not the make-out king.
More importantly to her was ,she is not going to do what her parents told.
The question of purpose has been eluded and the answer to her rebellion peers , celebrated.
An illusionary , senseless freedom.
The film is being worshipped and you would have no purpose in watching the latest romantic , 500 Days of Summer, not because it has loud connections with the Graduate , but because the twist in the movie was answered by the film itself without being explained.
Such is the gravity of the Graduate.
And the Climactic build was least said , a song.
It had Hoffman yawning into a clear uncertainity, again.
The people in the bus, they got on ,stare at them , like the audience .
Are they gonna make it in the future?
Is it Happily ever after?
Music , a major reason that made the film reach the cult, I would say.
Later on , Wes Anderson was one of the many celebrated artists, who romanticised/inspired it in many of their movies.
But the Graduate is still one of a kind .

“How are you Benjamin?”

“Am fine , thank you , Mrs.Robinson.”