Lost at the Movies

We were playing badminton, and I decided to pretend that I was Toshiro Mifune – not the shambling samurai of Yojimbo, or Sanjiro, or Seven Samurai; but the proud, yet compassionate and wise doctor of Red Beard. It didn’t work though: by the time I had drawn myself up and glared at the shuttle, it had gone elsewhere. I should have tried the brutal bandit of Rashomon – he was very quick, and didn’t spend much time thinking things over.

We’ve been seeing a number of Kurosawa movies lately, and I’m under Mifune’s spell – what presence that man had. The minute he enters the scene, everything becomes electrified.

Then, two days ago, we saw yet another amazing Iranian film: Secret Ballot. Although the director, Babak Payami, has lived in Canada since 1988, the film has the characteristics that I associate with Iranian films: making a lot out of almost nothing; the most subtle expression of feeling; the use of non-actors in their own setting; natural light; little music... The film is about a woman who arrives on the remote island of Kish, in the Persian Gulf, to collect the votes on Election Day. A soldier patrolling the coast to prevent smuggling is assigned to drive her around the island. It was funny and touching at the same time. I’ve been thinking about it and smiling ever since.

Yesterday I went to return the DVDs to the library, and discovered that the Tamil Nadu government has closed all video libraries, to combat video piracy. It reminded me of something Ramesh said years ago: If your watch is stolen, don’t report it to the government. Their response will be not to catch the thief, but to ban all watches. I don’t know how long the closure will last, but in the meantime, I’m going to watch Secret Ballot again.

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