Drama, English Movies

Nine Lives directed by Rodrigo Garcia

1217376136_1217672299 While seeing this and while trying to put a word to the beauty of what was unfolding, I was reminded of the way some photographs seem to capture some things perfectly and while you watch, you seem to find hidden layers of meaning in the same photo – in the trees, in the eyes, in the mouth and so on.
If I have to describe this movie, this is how it seems – a series of beautifully and thoughtfully shot photographs with meanings in every frame. It is a movie made with lots of care, for its characters, for the situation and for the ‘baggage’ (as the Glenn Close says) that we all carry around
Directed by Rodrigo Garcia, son of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, ‘Nine Lives’ is a series of nine snapshots revolving around nine women and the situation they deal with. There is no beginning and there is no end. Perhaps it can best be described as windows into the lives of the characters, a small chance to see a small part of their lives.


Stephen Hawking mentioned a few days back that he feels that women are the biggest mystery of the universe. ‘Nine Lives’ show also how varied each woman can be. Through situations of helpless anger, hopelessness, adultery, pain, sacrifice, yearning, fear we are offered glimpses of the strength, vulnerability and resilience of nine women.
Each of the nine stories are independent of each other but the characters from one story sometimes show up in others – just like life.
sissy_spacek5 Much like O Henry stories, each of the nine are a richly textured world of its own, with its own set of rules and past. Because there is no ‘end’, you end up wondering what may happen next. And because the director does not give you closure, you can only wonder about the answers – just like life.
The stories start as if in the middle of the telling and as you watch you piece together of where the characters have come from and by the time the climax appears, you get a fair idea of the life of the character and even though there is no ‘end’, you still feel a sense of incomplete completeness, to use an oxymoron.
There has been a spate of movies like these recently, trying to weave stories with separate incidents. However what sets ‘Nine Lives’ apart are two things -the sheer weight of the acting talents and the power of  the storytelling.
The cast includes Glen Close, Robin Wright Penn, Amanda Seyfried, Elpida Carillo, Ian McShane, Jason Isaacs, Aidan Quinn, Holly Hunter, William Fichtner, Joe Manegna. Almost to a T, all of them have given powerhouse performances. Perhaps because the time to make a presence was so limited, it seems that each of the actor has found some inner reserve to bring out that extra spark.
nine_lives Many of the performances require speaking with the body rather than with words and that is where this movie left its impact on me. The scene at the shopping mall aisle, the climax scene in the funeral home, the cutting short of the adultery and the last breathtaking scene of Glenn Close all without a single word said more or less makes this one a must watch.
Watch this not for passing the time because ‘Nine Lives’ will suck you in by the time the second story ends. Watch this if you like feeling being a part of a well told story, watch this if you like thinking for some more time after the credits roll.
Some of these stories will stay with you for quite some time

Book Review, Fiction, Historical, Satire

Brigadier Etienne Gerard series written by Arthur Conan Doyle

“Gerard is the hero of a series of comic short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The hero, Etienne Gerard, is a Hussar in the French Army during the Napoleonic Wars. Gerard’s most notable attribute is his vanity – he is utterly convinced that he is the bravest soldier, greatest swordsman, accomplished horseman and gallant lover in all France. Gerard is not entirely wrong since he displays notable bravery on many occasions, but his self-satisfaction undercuts this quite often. Obsessed with honour and glory, he is always ready with a stirring speech or a gallant remark to a lady.

Conan Doyle, in making his hero a vain, and often rather uncomprehending Frenchman, was able to satirize both the stereotypical English view of the French, and – by presenting them from Gerard’s baffled point of view – English manners and attitudes.”

– Taken from Wikipedia

Complete_Brigadier_Gerard I could not have found a better explanation for the book and the character therein that I just finished and enjoyed immensely (I thank Saurabh Singh for giving me the first book I ever read about Gerard – this is my re-reading of the books).

If you are fond of books laden with nice old world adventures (gallant adventures as Gerard would have said) where the hero comes through, no matter what the situation, you would like this book. On top of this, if you like your stories to have a touch of irony, a dash of satire and dollops of humour, you simply got to read the book (and the other in the series – the Adventures of Gerard). These will not leave you hee-hawing with laughter but will leave you feeling better than that – this book has the touch of humour that you can readily associate with Don Quixote. The man retelling these stories as an old man is so damn full of himself and yet feels he is being humble at times when he is at his height of boasting; but this quality instantly endears you to him as he takes you on his extraordinary adventures.

It is also a world of romance and of war, the era when whole nations mobilized to fight, yet Etienne Gerard makes both of them seem the same. The stories account for historical facts but these are no historical journals. The hero of the story is present in almost all the theatres of the Napoleonic wars and he always seems to play a significant part in it, atleast by his reckoning. His mannerism and his style of thinking is very catchy and soon you begin to feel that you would really like to talk to this Frenchman. What is most entertaining in the stories are his opinions and his proclamations, whether with reference to a beautiful woman, to the Emperor, to France, the British or to Hussars. All of them serve to bring up the stereotypical Frenchman but you don’t mind that because you fall in the love with Etienne Gerard before long and you like him just the way he is.