Boyhood – A Kind of a Review

boyhood3There is a scene in Boyhood when Olivia (Patricia Arquette) suddenly cries out “my life is just gonna go like that… this series of milestones…” We all would want to agree with her. After all what’s a 60 years or more or less of it in this eternal cosmos. And yet what director Richard Linklater (of Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight series and Waking Life) says is far beyond those lines.

Boyhood is predominantly the story of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he grows from a dreamy six year old into an 18 year old – literally. In a life controlled, limited, conditioned and ‘what not‘ed by parents (even step ones too), Mason is as much an out of the place kid as we all have been during that age. Mason’s world is as dull or as happy it can be – cycle rides, school, friendly neighborhoods, an annoying sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), along with a yearning for a father who happens to be their mother’s divorced husband. And when Olivia moves out of home in hope of making it better for her kids, their world gets as complicated as it can get. And so begins a child’s biggest and a necessary nightmare – ‘loss of innocence’ and dealing with it.

It is sometimes tough to realize when in the film Mason and Samantha have grown older and we take cues from their changed hair styles or tooth braces or such physical clues. But it is their underlying emotions expressed subtly that tell us about their growth. Richard Linklater ponders on – how quickly these kids grow and yet they are kids, who look at the world with different viewing lenses, coming into their own sooner than later. Linklater delves into the kids innocence and growth as easily as he mixes the talk about pop culture and existentialism ala all his previous films.

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It seems for all the major characters within the story life seems event less – even as the kids’ father Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) continues to visit them and tries to be as much a limited father he can be within his visiting hours; and even as Olivia continues her education and also marries a second time. The second husband, for reasons never known (how can any child know) turns out to be a good but disciplinarian and an alcoholic father. So the big events in the life of these kids are those when their seemingly working arrangements, for which they might have struggled – at least emotionally, fall out as both their parents make more and more mistakes – probably teaching Mason a lesson or two about life.

The camera is set in places as if we were sitting with Mason, his glass eyes absorbing everything, and we think we have an answer as to why he seems withdrawn. In these withdrawn worlds of these characters come the moments like when – Mason Sr. tries to educate his daughter (in her mid teens) about being ‘protected’, else he gently warns her about mistakes like he and his once wife did. There is no guilt there, just a feeble feeling that life could have been different and better if it were so possible, which disguises a father’s heart-felt confession about not being a better parent. Or when Olivia asks her son if he had had a joint and he replies yes innocently, and she can only smile about it. Or that Samantha and Mason have very little to say to each other as they grow up but connect to each other as silent witnesses of being the kids of their parents. Of course it’s Linklater – he never takes sentimentality take over on what he intends to document. He paints a rare canvas that is real, living and continues to make us wonder bout what is the meaning of everything.

In a world where kids fights for growth have to be dramatized to be understood (Harry Potter), Boyhood is the exact opposite of it. (May be the director knew what he was doing and that’s why he covered the Harry Potter mania here.) In a world where teachers, media and anyone who can boss you will offer advice about making it big in life Boyhood looks at things that are generally considered small.

Linklater’s biggest achievement in the movie is to capture the growth of not just a boy but of what is generally called family – despite it not working the way it is expected to. Life seems to offer them a second chance every time and sometimes they make the best of it, sometime they don’t. It’s all acceptable here. For those who can’t – life’s events are memories. For those who can make the best of these chances – there seem to be more chances. And in a life where chances come and go by the toughest thing is – to not to give up on what doesn’t necessarily make sense but connects us all, to continue to dream of something beyond what is visible, to feel the moment take over you – like how you felt looking at the sky as a kid or when you got really high, and if possible find a partner who can share that dream and make meaning out of it.

No Linklater’s Boyhood isn’t just about Mason. It is about everyone and what makes life tick and how one retains it – despite the odds.

The Purpose of Relationships In Our Lives

 

 

 

 

I think the purpose of all or any relationship in our life is self – revelation, helping us understand ourselves better as we go on about our lives. Even Jiddu Krishnamurthy seems to say the same thing here and he delves into it deeper than anyone else I’ve known or read.

A relationship, whether it is between two people or a human and just an object, or whether it is an old one or a newly formed one, is like the one between you and the mirror. You see a mirror, you see a clean reflection – it means that both you and mirror are okay, but if you see a disturbed reflection you first check if you have spots on your face, not on your mirror. But in a relationship we generally tend to do otherwise, don’t we?

If a relationship doesn’t tell us anything new about ourselves in a way we can’t probably tell ourselves sooner or later that relationship crumbles. That is probably why we fill a relationship with a gifts or dinners or travels or surprises  – so that we see ourselves in a newer and setting, and find newness in ourselves through our responses to these new things. Of course to have a companion who can tell us if we are fooling ourselves with this newness or if there is something left in us to be discovered is a big bonus.

Yet, strangely, it is also probably why a person needs some alone time too, to find newness in himself (or herself), that doesn’t have anything to do with others in the world – just that individual and the universe for some great lone moments! It is in these moments one realizes that while mirrors are great reflections to what one is, life isn’t lived in mirrors or life’s purpose is not only to see ourselves in the mirrors, and this is probably just the beginning of our self revelation.

 

Voting for NOTA – few thoughts

To some extent voting for NOTA I felt how an Afro-American might have felt trying voting for the first time in the USA or (just for a closer example) probably how Anna Hazare and his like minded individuals felt when they were pushing for RTI Act say two decades ago.  I knew I was doing the right thing, and not necessarily in the way it is generally practices, even though what is right is already explained in books (also called constitutions) and yet it not done the way it should be.

I strongly believe that India, despite it’s flawed execution of fairly done ‘on paper’ policies, can sustain with any leader at the helm, before some sort of mayhem arises in our system. There is no proof to this, but I am sure we are more or less saner people, when it comes accepting our foolishness. I base my thinking on the fact that YSR, despite his well documented corrupt practices, was and is called great leader, and our system, at least in the erstwhile AP, is still running, – obviously our system is very concrete.

But in the mean time, we have to find a way to hold our leadership responsible at the place where they are most weaker – the elections. That’s why NOTA, despite it’s many obvious weaknesses. But aren’t there many such weaknesses when we vote for someone unknown?

NOTA’s journey has just started, and like many good things in life (in India at least), it has taken the long route. And it will be very long time before we will be able to see it’s impact. However, no one can deny that this is the least corrupt form of voting, is absolutely legal, and its results are going to help the system by forcing further discussions on it ( who will discuss it – the same leaders whom all else have voted, while any one of us can file a case in the SC for further clarity and betterment of NOTA). These three points cannot be absolutely said about any individual who will win or to whom we vote.

Voting for NOTA is moving ahead one concrete step at a time, and of course there is hope. All else, probably, is just a prayer with a HOPE and is like jumping into the river, without knowing how to swim – may be the water isn’t deep, or may be some one will rescue or may be there is going to be yet another butcher winning after his livestock has voted for him/her!
When years later NOTA will be taken seriously, parties will be forced to field stronger and capable candidates, while media – as it usually does during elections – will have great day trying to bring the candidates down, thus – pushing people to think and use their senses more!  Till then, India, with all it’s visionary leaders and/or crown princes, this party or that party – will be all the same – three steps forward, two and a half steps backwards – if you think we are still moving – well then NOTA will make it two and a quarter steps backwards!

Surprises of the Day – 03.04.2014

 

A man who I knew, to whom I couldn’t reach out to, even though seeing him after ‘some’ time

A woman whose poem about reflection and a mirror reminded me of a character I created

A sparrow’s song in the morning, and a peacock’s squeal in the evening

My mom still feeling shy when I ask her with what name should I store her husband’s name in her new mobile

My reaching out to an old colleague telling him that I can’t find guys like him easily

That I should think about writing this in the midnight

10 Minutes of Meditation with Sadguru

Since I first saw, Jaggi Vasudev’s answers on an English news channel almost a decade ago, I have always liked his answers, his language, his accent and his quotes and quirks. I had tried getting to know Isha yoga, but somehow it just didn’t workout. And then recently when I heard that Jaggi Vasudev was to give an address at a convention center just about a mile away from my home, I decided (as usual in the last moment) to go and check his speech session, which he called ‘Mystic Guide’.

The talk was usual, nothing more and nothing less. However, the few minutes of meditation, guided by the Guru himself, was definitely not something I had anticipated, but made the session worthwhile. I was definitely caught off guard by the combination of Humming (also probably including some Mantra chants) and the music, comprising of an Earthy voiced female singer, two guitars, a flute and am guessing a keyboard. The fact that I could sit for about three hours on floor, despite my lower back hurting badly, is some sort of a success story for me in the sense that I could push myself at least in the physical realm. ( I remember asking my wife’s kid-cousin just few days ago to sit in a chair and not to move for 10 minutes just a day ago, guess I know how it feels for a kid).

For those who wonder if I am an atheist or a non-conformist or a believer, I would say, I am all and nothing and hence their wondering is invalid. However, I think it is extremely important that you find a way to see/witness greatness at least once in a while (may be that’s why we all go on tours, watch cricket matches and what not). I think for those 10minutes of meditation with the guru, it can be included in my list of very few live Great experiences, I’ve had.

Tradition, Logic and Limitations!

I believe that any tradition is a practice, the originating logic of which has been forgotten, but is repeated foolishly in the belief that this belief will replace the wisdom of logic. Funny thing is there is no reason why the belief shouldn’t work. So is following a tradition a good thing or a bad? Depends, on how happy you feel doing it.

I have seen a so called ‘well-educated’ Indian woman, who was glad to rush home in the evenings, to light an evening lamp near the Tulasi (Holy Basil) tree at her home. I have often wondered, if she ever cared for the reason why Tualsi was supposed to be prayed to- her belief (then) was that Tulasi would bless her husband with long life, and happiness at home.

I wonder how this practice must have come out. I think women rushing home from work(if ever they worked at all), more so during the torrid Indian summers, is to reach home (before sunset), prepare well for the night (before the ‘bulb’ was invented) and of course water all the plants that needed care. I’m no expert at this – but I often wonder if my friend did any of these. While there is no point questioning her intention of praying for a happy and long life for her husband, I wonder how many times she had cared to pluck Tulasi leaves and use them in tea she made for her husband on a daily basis – Tulasi would have definitely given longish life to her husband (which apparently has been proven empirically and scientifically).

So what was the question again?
Tradition or Logic? – My say – any practice without inherently understanding the logic behind it is useless. But we can’t hold the same logic with life and living – can we – after all, it will take more than few life times to understand the logic of life ( if it ever can be understood) and then trying to ‘live’ would be foolish.

What I basically mean is that logic has ‘applicability issues’ in practice, but that doesn’t and shouldn’t mean that ‘only practice without logic’ is better. Oh my my… this agnosticism is damn cunning and never seems to leave me…!!!