Monday 30 August 2010

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. ~ Pablo Picasso

I recently turned the big, or rather ‘grown-up’ 18. Might sound clichéd but I can’t help reminiscing about my childhood. I was quite spoilt as a child, probably most amongst all my cousins or my ‘generation’ of kids, and I have my parents’ amiable nature and the Indian obsession with nerdy kids to thank for it. Honestly I’m a bit freaked out about becoming an adult. It’s like I am Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire, not Andrew G) sitting in a car with my uncle saying “With great power comes great responsibility.” As of 25th August this year I cannot get away with being just a kid. I cannot act childish without being called immature. I cannot just sit around filling my face up with food. I actually stand a chance to get in trouble if I follow my true destiny of becoming a serial killer/mob gangster. Flying away with Peter Pan is no longer an option. Bloody hell I am too old to ever get accepted at Hogwarts!
So in order to honour my yesteryears, I want to write about my most random childhood moments, my favourite kid movies and (since I’m a born cinephile, one film-related post isn’t enough) all the movies that have shaped my personality, my dreams, my choices and my life so far.

Random Kid Moments-
•     My First Sports Day- Now I actually remember this like it was yesterday. I had four slices of jam bread for extra energy. I was in nursery and five years old. I was in a race and the teacher said, “Ready Steady Go!” and I started running…and then I realized I was the only one running because apparently we had to wait for her to blow the whistle. My mum says that I made a very embarrassed face and went back. Then there was a relay and I was the last person in my team. I was coming second but I stopped right at the finishing line, let another girl through and then ran and came in third. Why? Because the second prize was a stupid little dilapidated football and the third prize was a kitchen set. It was also the first and last sports prize I have ever won.
•     The Piñata Tale- So in kid parties, there is often that enchanting glittering piñata which is full of little toffees, chocolates, gifts and thermacol balls. Now whenever the birthday girl (I was in a girl’s school as a kid) hit the piñata and broke it open, all the other children started to collect as many sweets and gifts as possible…except me. I used to run after those lighter-than-air thermacol balls and collect twenty-thirty of those and those alone.
•     Eating out- Whenever I was invited to any parties by my friends or my parents’ friends, I never ate anything. Numerous people have tried and failed but the kid Me was adamant about eating nothing. Rather, I came home and ate normal food. Also whenever my family went to eat at restaurants, I didn’t used to eat anything at first and when all the food was getting over and we were going to leave, I would start eating then as if a bolt of lightning has suddenly hit me.
•     Pink Obsession- Oh I was the worst type of girlie-girl as a kid. I loved pink so much I bet I wanted to marry it. I wore pink rubber bands and clips and clothes and shoes. My worst pink memory is when I entered an art  competition my uncles used to hold for the kids in my area and drew a landscape with pink mountains, pink sun, pink trees, pink buildings, pink cars and pink people…needless to say I didn’t win the prize and had the worst crying fit ever.
•     Barbie Girl- Oh this might be a spin-off of the pink fiasco but I loved my Barbies. I bought new clothes for them when I bought new clothes. I gave them hircuts thinking their hair would grow back. Every time my best friend Alisha or I bought a new Barbie we would create a whole love story with a vamp and everything and marry her off to Alisha’s super-hunky Ken. I even bought the monthly Barbie magazines, without fail.

I’m having a bout of mid-teen amnesia and so I cannot remember more random stuff, but be sure that I was a weird kid.
PS. Feel free to not read any of this.

Growing up is such a barbarous business, full of inconvenience... and pimples. ~ J.M. Barrie

Okay. I have not outgrown my kid movies phase. I literally vow to keep watching them and enjoying them till I am dead and buried/incinerated/lost forever in an ice glacier. The reason why I love them is because it gives so much joy and hope, and that too in such a pure form so as to leave the viewer with satisfaction and memories. The innocence of the children is what sets it apart from most films about grown-ups. Also I guess they must be amongst the most difficult types of films to make, with kids and all. So here’s my tribute to them.

•     Home Alone 1 and 2- Could there ever have been a cuter kid than Macaulay Culkin? I think not. His two adventures, the first being left home alone and the second being lost in the huge city of New York are absolutely amazing. Kevin McCallister’s wit and courage keep him safe, especially from the two evil crooks Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. Oh how I love this film. Chris Columbus’ excellent ability to make mesmerizing kid movies and John Hughes’ genius made these films what they are today. There are very few (deeply disturbed) people who do not like these films. The sense of freedom that Kevin experiences and how he is able to completely torture the grown-up bad guys is just awesome! We also love Kevin’s huge and oblivious family, the ‘tough’ bad guys who get hit with bricks on the face, electrocuted, burnt, pecked upon by hundreds of pigeons and they just don’t give up, and obviously the old man in the first film and the pigeon lady in the second. And who can forget Tim Curry’s evil Grinch face in the in Home Alone 2?

•     Baby’s Day Out- Another John Hughes classic. I often talk about how I never got over Jack Dawson from Titanic and Jess Mariano from Gilmore Girls…but I never got over the baby in this film too. How incredibly brilliant is this film? A millionaire baby who is kidnapped but just because of pure childish joy escapes from his kidnappers living out the adventures in a book his nanny, none other than SATC’s Cynthia Nixon, used to read to him while his kidnappers get into trouble everytime. The various situations the baby and the kidnappers, led by Joe Pantoliano, get into are unforgettable- the gorilla scene, the park scene and obviously the construction scene. And the baby, with his “Boo Boo!” and “Tik Tok” and everything else he does is so infinitely adorable, you can’t help but love him!!!

•     Kindergarten Cop- I love it when big tough men do “sensitive” roles. How sensitive exactly? Enough to take care of an entire kindergarten class. Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger (this spelling was in my laptop’s dictionary btw) plays a cop who has to go undercover as a kindergarten teacher in order to catch a criminal whose son is in his class. When brawn meets bawling bubbling 3-4 year olds, you can count on hilarious consequences. I honestly think it’s one of the most ingenuous films because it is absolutely amazing to see this huge man take care of kids who are like a tenth of his size. The kids are all very sweet; my personal favourite being the precocious boy whose father was a gynecologist. Schwarzenegger too is absolutely convincing in this part action-part comedic role.

•     Little Rascals- This is probably the epitome of delightful, adorable kids that can be put together in a film. This film is EPIC cute. It’s a story of chauvinistic 4-5 year boys who run the “He-Man Women Haters Club” except one of the co-founders Alfalfa falls in love with “hottie” Darla. It is absolutely lovely to see this little kids understanding the dynamics of a gender-based world. The lines in this film are classics, like “The way you fill my heart I’ll fill your face”, “What’s the number for 911?” or when a snobby kid comes to town to vie for Darla’s attention and introduces himself by saying “My father owns the oil refinery” and Darla says, “That’s why you’re so refined” and Alfalfa adds, “And so oily.” GENIUS! The kids with the hair-sticking out Alfalfa to super pretty Darla to brilliant Uh-huh are so so cute that you just want to eat them up ( which happens to be one of the most disturbing phrases ever invented).

•     Up- What an enchanting film! I think after many instances people give of true love like Romeo and Juliet, Elizabeth and Darcy, Rick and Ilsa, Antony and Cleopatra, Tony and Maria, Jack and Rose, Joel and Clementine, one should put Ellie and Carl of Up in such a list too. I think more than any of these actually, their story is the actual dream. It’s a story of lifelong love, and what one does after their better half passes on. This is a magical film and makes us realize that why animation still matters so much in this world, and in that of cinema. The image of a colourful house floating in the air with the help of thousands of helium balloons could never have been as effective if it wasn’t a cartoon film. Carl’s adventure to go to his and Ellies’ dream destination in Paradise Falls in South America along with nosy, clueless and down-to-earth Ralph is incredible. There with a rare species of bird who Ralph aptly names Kevin and a talking dog Doug, Carl gets to have a fantastic journey even in his old age. This film also shows that the key to a kids movie is not to be a kid mainly, but to be one at heart.

•     Peter Pan- “All children grow up except one.” I love this story. The enchantment of Neverland, the mischief of the Missing Boys and the evil of Captain Hook, altogether with the hero Peter Pan make one of the most famous children tales of all time. After watching this film, I couldn’t help but wish to be Wendy and fly away with Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, all the way to Neverland. It’s sort of the dream to never grow up, and stay a child forever. As a species I think we are obsessed with such characters and people, whether it is an unnerving fixation with immortal vampires or hero-worshipping all the “good who died young” like James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Sid Vicious, Kurt Cobain and Heath Ledger. Peter Pan stands out to both adults and children because it fills us up with wonder and excitement- to visit Neverland and see pirates and Indians, to find out about fairies and mermaids, to see the good battle the evil. Jeremy Sumpter, Rachel Hurd-Wood and Jason Isaacs – are all amazing in this film.

•     Stuart Little- A kid is a kid even if he is a mouse. I mean forget Oliver Twist, it was Stuart Little who had a hard time fitting in. A most unbelievable tale about a family who decide to adopt a good honest mouse as a kid brother for their only son, and how they all fall in love with each other, true family style. Also don’t forget they have a furry white cat Snowball as their pet. Snowball’s jealousy and stray-cat connections spell doom for ‘little’ Stuart and the Littles, but family and love overcome all obstacles. This film has to be close to everyone’s hearts. This film is also, as far as my memory takes me, the first one I ever cried in, in the scene when Snowball tells Stuart that his family didn’t love him.  I love Michael J. Fox , Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, Johnathan Lipnicki and Nathan Lane who voices Snowball.

•     Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory- Yes I love the classic more than the modern adaptation. It’s the whole deal with chocolates and Roald Dahl that makes this film magical. I love the Oompa Lompas in this film! And their songs; Deep Roy gives me nightmares. This film too is the dream. Which kid in the world does not want to win a trip to a highly elusive and expert chocolate factory? Everything, from the excitement of the finding of the Golden Tickets, to the Chocolate Room, to the evil spy- is so much fun to watch. Also though I worship Johnny Depp, I love Gene Wilder as the slightly crazy and immensely talented Willy Wonka. This is the cult classic, and though the new adaptation is closer to the book and directed by one of my most favourite directors Tim Burton, something about the classic just makes it better.

Notable mentions would be Mary Poppins (I was never a Sound of Music fan), Home Alone 3 (he wasn’t Macaulay Culkin), My Girl (NO DEATHS OF CHILDREN), The Good Son (awesome but creepy), Pan’s Labyrinth (it’s too different and tragic, brilliant no less, to be in this list) and Harry Potter (he grows up).


Chuck Palahniuk said that "Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I've ever known." Well, though that holds true for me too, I do think almost more than real people, he fictional ones have influenced me more. I’m going to make a Bollywood film list later, but true inspiration came mostly from Hollywood films (I know- way to be westernized). The films that have made me the person I am today, for better or for worse, are (in chronological order):

•     Titanic- Instant gratification, life-long love affair. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Jack Dawson was my first love and will always be so. Avatar may be graphically cooler and have made a hell lot of money, but Titanic is the greater film.
•     Harry Potter- I will post a huge tribute on these films when the last one *sniff* comes out, but it is Harry Potter alone that changed my entire film-watching perspective. It was the very first film I saw independent of my father’s preferences. And it was after my obsession with them reduced, only a bit, when I started watching as many films that I could. Also everytime a new Harry Potter film comes out, it’s like my entire world comes to a standstill. If Jack Dawson was my first love, Harry Potter will probably be my last.
•     Pretty Woman- The best Romcom in the history of time. I cannot exactly tell how it changed my life, but I know for a fact that it did. It just did.
•     Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl- The film that made me the Johnny Depp fanatic I am today. Need I say more?
•     Ocean’s Eleven- It was a revelation of Matilda-like proportions when the crooks were the good guys…and that too George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon good.
•     Moulin Rouge- For a long time I was struggling to understand what type of person I am. I saw this film, and instantly knew that I was a Romantic. I owe this film a lot…makes me feel like I belong somewhere.
•     Fight Club- I went through this paranoid period in my life where I was scared of everything and hated being that way. Then one night I randomly started watching a film that was coming in some channel- changed me forever. Fight Club is the shit! Made me want a disorder and a split personality more than ever.
•     Edward Scissorhands- Made Tim Burton one of my favourite directors, along with making me a diehard fan of Winona Ryder. Also, changed my outlook on Romantics and true love.
•     Mean Girls- I honestly think I became smarter after watching this bitching-fest. Popularity, plasticity ands mean girls- genius. Also, this is the reason why I want a gay best friend so bad.
•     Dead Poets Society- I’ve always had a secret fantasy of knowing what a boys boarding school would be like. Add that to poetry and uber-talented Robin Williams and you get one of the sweetest and most touching high school films ever.
•     Kill Bill Volume One- The very first film of the master filmmaker Quentin Tarantino I saw. And almost needless to say, I was mindblasted!
•     Lemony Snickets- Dark comedies sort of became an obsession after this.
•     Lord of the Rings- Epic films are incredible. This trilogy gives so many messages, of togetherness, chivalry, love, the victory of the underdog and of course, good versus evil. Add to that the enchanting Middle World and legendary battles…spectacular!
•     Across the Universe- Got me into Beatlemania and the sixties, and everything they stood for.
•     Ironman- I have always loved superheroes but Robert Downey Jr. as possibly the most egotistical and brilliant superhero ever just sort of changed my life. I worship this film. Action movie dream.
•     Before Sunset- A romantic film, but in fact not about romance. I love films which start and finish in a specific amount of time. Also Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are plain remarkable in this film.
•     The Boat That Rocked- Tom Sturridge. Also an infinitely funny and musical film…really got me into 60s music.
•     Marie Antoinette- The beauty in this film made me a fan of Kirsten Dunst, Sofia Coppola, tainted cameras, French people and creamy sweet dishes.
•     A Clockwork Orange- Proved to me that I do indeed love anti-heroes more than any other types of characters. Alex Delarge FTW. Also, made me fall in love with Stanley Kubrick.
•     Silence of the Lambs- Okay call me a creep but I really wanted Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling to get together. Just the chemistry…one of the best thrillers and horror movies ever.
•     The Purple Rose of Cairo- I’m not sure, but I think this was the film that finally made the choice for me to do something with films in my life. What a beautiful story. My favourite Woody Allen film ever.
•     The Shawshank Redemption- Happy Endings are the way. One of the smartest films I have ever seen. It’s so brilliant that many classics just fade and die in comparison.
•     Taxi Driver- Oh woe to Oscars for giving Departed an award and not this film. Robert De Niro is a dream in this film. Totally do not get why he is considered a villain. Marvelous film.
•     The Dreamers- Beautiful film. Very different and difficult to accept at times but every movie-lover’s fantasy. Michael Pitt, Eva Green and Louis Garrel are just the dreamers that I can almost identify myself with. Cinephiles Unite!
•     Bande- a- Part- My favourite in my French films phase. God bless Jean Luc Godard! So random and awesome. Also the dance sequence that inspired the Pulp Fiction Mia-Vincent dance…oh the inspiration for Tarantino is obviously a superb film indeed.
•     Inception- Christopher Nolan has made a masterpiece that should be studied. It is so exceptional that filmmakers are going to try and make a similar film for many many years and just fail miserably. Tough luck but it can’t be helped. Dreams, ideas, everything won’t be the same again.

I must say that these films are not my favourite films. That is too big a list…but all of these films are there.