CINEMA IN VERSE

For a change, I’ll offer a synopsis of five powerful works of cinematic art that I was moved by in different ways.

As always, versatility is my aim and I hope you all like my idea of capturing the essence of the stories in verse.

So I write the synopsis in prose, followed by the poems below.

***


HILLBILLY ELEGY (2020)





Melding past misgivings with a present destined for better things ahead, this is an adaptation of a seminal memoir about one boy’s disorienting grappling with his  family status . Yet he is enveloped by love, on the part of a mother who has greatest reserves of it and is also her own worst enemy as also from his beloved MAMAW and eventually sister. A bountifully gifted cast makes it accessible.

For all its critics who can’t handle its truthful stance on financial despair, I have to say that it’s not the first time you have dissed women and children in life affirming portrayals. So be it with you all. HILLBILLY ELEGY moved me with its hopeful stance and a lived-in feel of class awareness.

 

**

12 ANGRY MEN(1957) & A FEW GOOD MEN(1992)








Two classics almost forty years apart in eras and setting contend with the truth and a hankering for justice in blindsided alleys of law. In the first, it involves a motley crew of men from a cross-section of social classes performing their collective duty as jurors, as random citizens enacting their parts till one of them stands up for reason.

In A FEW GOOD MEN, the tussle is among lawyers and army professionals where authority and experience weigh the scales even when the evidence is bare for all to see.

The long road to triumph is hence bittersweet for the defendants here because truth entails an act of recovery from prejudices, pulling it down from the pedestal on which we put law, sometimes preferring sections and clauses above humanity.

Powerful performances ground both in common parlance and impactful resolves.

***
GODLESS (2017)





A riveting albeit expansive Western series set in the fading years of 19th Century frontier America, GODLESS is a worthy addition to the genre’s revisionist canon as women rise up from the ashes of history to show men how it’s done.

In this impassioned and impressively mounted epic saga, justice is on a quest to find its feminist roots that were deprived by the ages. But oh! what a plunge it is to the best elements of the form and what glorious performances are here to behold. The seven episodes give us a panorama of human integrity fighting against amoral surrender more than the elements.

***

   MARY MAGDALENE (2018)



From the floating body in the lake in the opening to the final chorus of women taking the plunge to test the water together, this Garth Davis directed work puts the titular entity on a normal path to utmost devotion, salvaging her history from the ranks of the ‘fallen woman’.

It bears a spiritual purity, matched by the celestial light in Rooney Mara’s performance and Joaquin Phoenix’s questing thirst for humility in the face of a divine fate, as Jesus. The cinematography by Greig Fraser, music by Johann Johannsson and Hildur Gudnadottir bring their inner soul to light.

I also liked how by casting TAHAR RAHIM, SHIRA HAAS and the likes of the other two leads with Chiwetel Ejiofor, the diversity of the original Biblical region, one populated by Muslims, Jews and Christians, all subsumed in Jesus’ creed for all, is maintained.

Garth Davis’ directorial commitment will ensure it seeps into the soul of the faithful and the believers. History gets its due, with the focus here on Mary’s formidable role in shaping a religion and reaching a goal of self-internalization in the process.

***

Now I share pithy poems based on, or should I say inspired by, each of the above works.

HILLBILLY ELEGY

    It’s something to be deprived
    quite another to always cry,
    glazing your eyes
    when it could see the world ahead.

    Take the road,
    Carry the miles,
    Sing the Appalachian ballad
    Make your own folklores.
    
    But always be somebody.
    Somebody to find the trail
    of life in the Kentucky roots
    and conquer the world
    after putting together
    the family tree.
    And then your place
    amongst both.

     **
12 ANGRY MEN & A FEW GOOD MEN

   For truth
   Justice
  The American Way
  The human way
  Listen
  Reason
  Bid the conscience to be like blood,
  trickling with the flow
  of a sea in spate.

  Don’t hold your tongue
  Or sway the judgement
  Don’t play God
  or pull those strings.

  Just put yourself in the shoes
  of the wronged,
  the cursed,
  those behind bars
  and let freedom conquer
  a fettered mind.

Then truth
and Justice
will be allies,
more alike than ever.

Then the ballad of good men
will be one
with their innermost truth.

   ***

       GODLESS
    
       Lazy, pompous men,
       breaking horses,
       breaking towns,
       daring to break the women up
       on the basis of sex alone.

         Listen fellas,
         Little town isn’t like any other.
         Because here,
         a revolution has been mooted.
         The pans and pots as garrulous
         as their gunpowder spirits.
         For the women are like
         mares of the badlands.
         Open with affections and fists,
          opening their hearts
           and their guns,
           making their own Gods
            and legend.

          This is their land of plenty,
           sitting on a minefield.

             ***

           MARY MAGDALENE

         The celestial light
          fell in the water,
          right in your eyes
          and made you a home
          in Lord’s sanctum.
   
          You walk
          You heal
         Witness to the Crucifixion
         and the Resurrection.
        Always the child of the waters,
        baptising history
        with your prayers
        but most of all your light.

         Always the woman
         who walks ahead,
          to lead the way.

             ***
        

  

 

  

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