Category Archives: At My Leisure…

Eight Ball | Decisions, Rats, and That Kind of Thing

Another year, already, and change is the buzz word. I hear it in the speeches during the primaries (and from the pundits, who editorialize about the “change election”). It’s an election year, and we all want change. How time flies! Our astral mascot is a rodent, and we’re going to collectively do things differently this year. That’s the Zeitgeist-y feeling, anyway.

But change is really in the offing for me, too, so all this talk of change in 2008 resonates with me on a more personal level. I resigned from AOL to do my own thing for a little while, and so far, it’s been great. Here’s what I learned about hard decisions.

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Mr. Gandhi Goes to Frankfurt

So I’m in Frankfurt Airport, after the long continental puddle hop from California, and I’m weary. I can’t see so well, because my eyes are a bit sore. I’m on my way to Spain to attend the Open Source in Mobile conference in Madrid, and I have my Indian Passport and a few sundry papers of visitation clutched tenuously in my hand. I’m merely transiting through Germany, and I’m trying to find the line where I can get my stamp, since I possess a valid visa to go to my next port of call.

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Review of The 12 Labors

Brazilian cinema fascinates me because it marries the vibrancy of the New World (including intriguing racial identities and beautiful music) with stark urban realities. I mention a few of Brazilian movies I’ve seen and thoroughly enjoyed in a previous blog post.

Ricardo Elias’ The 12 Labors is as watchable as its peers, and shares thematic elements with Black Orfeu. Like the 1959 “cross-over” classic, the protagonist of The 12 Labors, Heracles, is named after a character in Greco-Roman mythology. The connection to mythology here, however, is not as pronounced. As we slowly learn, the mythical 12 tasks of Heracles (which includes slaying beasts, cleaning a filthy celestial stable in a day, and other impossible errands of redemption) serves more of a symbolic role in the story of a black youth in Sao Paulo.

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Review of Hana

It was apparently a Kennedy family motto to never get mad, but instead to get even. Mere anger was by itself not a sufficient catharsis — an affront called for retaliation in kind. I recall this little dictum from my repository of Kennedy folklore because I’ve always found it an attractive philosophy. But what shape should the revenge take? And should one repay a dastardly act with something equally dastardly? Gandhi once famously said that if everyone espoused the philosophy of an “eye for an eye” everyone in the world would be blind.

Such ruminations on what constitutes revenge and payment in kind came to mind after I left the Kabuki theater following a screening of Kore-eada’s Hana. Remember that I said I’d review it as part of my role as a member of the citizen press corps? Hana is a beautiful, slow-moving treatise on the subject of revenge and forgiveness, steeped in Japanese samurai culture, and set in a time when the samurai are pretty much extraneous. Kore-eada’s story takes place in the Edo era (old Tokyo, circa 1701) when there are no battles to be fought, and the glorious samurai of yore basically sit around unemployed as festering malcontents.

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Joining The Thronging Citizen Journalism Contingent (By Writing About Movies)

Thanks to the good auspices of Kevin Smokler (who I met at South By Southwest), I get a press pass to the San Francisco International Film Festival as part of the Citizen Media Press Corps. I love the movies with a passion, and the film festival circuit is a great place to catch movies that aren’t out in popular release yet. There are also some movies that you can probably only see on the festival circuit. For the next week, expect a lot of posts about the movies, which I’ll file under Society | At My Leisure. Here’s what I’ll be up to with my press pass audaciously hanging from my neck.

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