The Godfather Coda: “The Death Of Michael Corleone”

April 2, 2021 at 6:15 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

Francis Ford Coppola seems to be doing curious things these days; he has re-edited 3 of his films, Apocalypse Now (twice), Redux and The Final Cut, Cotton Club and, most recently, Godfather 3. I have seen Redux, which is a bit of a disaster, I haven’t seen The Final Cut or Cotton Club yet; I just saw The Godfather 3 edit now called The Godfather Coda: “The Death of Michael Corleone”: this is the film I want to harp about.

This was the film that many people, audiences and critics had problems with; two major criticisms were that they hated Sofia Coppola as Mary, Michael’s daughter, and blamed her for the film’s failure. Granted, she is no actress, and one could do better, but with the screen time she has, she could hardly sabotage a whole film, besides her ineptness as an actor seems to, in some strange way,  actually work for her character as a rich ingenue; the other major problem was that people got confused by and couldn’t understand the shady Corleone deal with the Vatican. I fail to understand what the confusion was all about, for me there was enough in the film for even a halfwit to figure this out; this was long before Marvel movies or web series where you need to over-explain for no purpose or drag a narrative endlessly,  long after whatever theme if indeed you even have one, is exhausted.

I, too, had reservations, but of a different nature. It does fall short of the first two films. Part 2 is without doubt the best of the three and arguably Coppola’s finest and most controlled film; also significant work in American Cinema. The first time I saw the last part, in a purple coloured multiplex in Copenhagen, I felt it was meandering on occasion, too operatic for my liking; the strokes were broad, even Pacino tended to often be overstated. I remember mentioning this to a colleague, responding to me she said there was an opera in the film, yes there was, but that wasn’t the point.

On subsequent viewings, still having my original reservations, I began appreciating aspects of it. First and much less important as a fitting conclusion to a great American epic. But more importantly, the presence of the Catholic moral universe and how that, more than the so-called story, informs this last segment. The characters may themselves not be religious, but they have been shaped by the socio-cultural and religious sensibility of the society they belong to, and probably some aspects of it are deeply entrenched within the psyche of these characters. I believe this aspect becomes important in this instalment and works to a great extent within that paradigm. During its making, Coppola wanted it to be his King Lear: maybe it is, albeit flawed to a great extent in its sometimes meandering nature, which diffuses the intent.

Michael, whatever his brilliance in orchestrating his empire, is still at the heart of it a primitive Italian, more specifically a Sicilian type man: we see it especially in his relationship to his Wasp wife (ex-wife) Kay and his children, who see through his justifications (something he always resorts to). Reason backed by murder is what Kay accuses him of. As he is at heart a moral man but has fallen away and below both morally and spiritually, in Part 3 he admits to never being able to attain a state of grace, something fundamental to the Christian sense of redemption. While we never explicitly know if Michael was a believer, he belongs to a culture where it is ingrained within and difficult to get rid of, a consuming disease. Coppola knows this, and his people, and places it within this context: his choice of Pietro Mascagni’s opera, Cavalleria Rusticana, literally translated as Rustic Chivalry, is no random choice, it is set on Easter Day, fundamental in Christian theology; it also mirrors similar characters, ideas and themes that are in the Godfather films. Turridu will die in the opera, die with the doors of the church shut, ironically on Easter, the day of Resurrection. While in this part of the trilogy, intercuts are not between church ritual and killing: rather  between the opera and vengeance, yet the opera has within it Christian themes  as a backdrop to its main story. Coppola, coming from a musical tradition, knows his music references: his father Carmine played under Arturo Toscanini and was a composer; his younger brother, FFC’s uncle Anton Coppola, who died last year at 102, was an opera conductor of renown (he conducted the opera uncredited in Godfather 3). In the reception for the papal honor, you get a subtle musical hint of a few notes, linking Don Altobelo to Sicily and the assassination plot: it is so fleeting it may go unnoticed by even enthusiasts who think cinema exists in its screenplay and view it as such, yet it foreshadows what will happen, marking the moment by a dissonance to the other sound and music in that sequence. The director’s understanding of a Catholic tradition and pomp is made fine use of. Scorsese, his younger contemporary, has a more narrow sense of Catholicism, which is interesting to study especially if you take Mean Streets, his rawest and maybe purest work and later Departed and Irishman, both not really satisfying but reflecting the same religion differently; each belonging to a different cultural milieu and context, equally valid for each of them.

Coppola knows how to use other arts in the cinema, unlike local poser Ram Madhvani whose ideas in a  string of films are so stupid it demeans human intelligence, his use of the Bhagvad Geeta in his awful current web nightmare AARYA is quite is a hoot, I do not mean the fusion music aspect but in its very essence. Let’s not talk about  the laughable  Sushmita Sen performance, whose face seems to have assumed the qualilty of a Kabuki mask, he could  at least have tapped that. Contrast Sen to what the Godfather films do with the character of Connie played by Talia Shire, mainly known for this trilogy and the Rocky films, how remarkably she grows into character across the 3 films. Truly remarkable. One remembers with horror his debut, the atrocious “Let’s Talk” and his outrageous claim about variations on a theme: ya like being bashed by a baseball bat. This is his uninformed conceit. Even average Hollywood films have done variations on a theme within mainstream narratives with finesse, and not showed off to the world, simply allowing the cine literate viewer to experience it. Besides, “variations on a theme” have been done in other arts centuries ago.

Anyway the point of of this ludicrous digression about Ram is that an artist should know his characters, their environment, and not use  things just to advocate his/her own importance which is irrelevant to the text. Audiences and critics, ignorantly tend to pick up on concepts and references of value in themselves, overlooking their irrelevance in the scheme of things and valorising these inept nincompoops; now with social media every halfwit is a genius.

Back to Coppola and the re-edit.

The “Coda” in the title is a bit unnecessary though the film maker claims it’s what he and Puzo wanted to originally call it: when I saw it during its initial release, I felt it was a coda. The “Death of Michael Corleone” part is even stranger: this I presume  has to do with his fiddling with the end, which I will yap about below.

The two major changes in the film are the opening and closing, there are some minor edits, changes in the musical cues and sound levels, it is also shorter by about 14 minutes, ah the blu ray transfer does look better.

The changed ending is pointless but FFC seems to want to emphasise a point. In the original after the killing of Mary who dies by the bullet meant for her father, she pays for his transgressions, a fundamental Christian theme, there are reactions to the tragedy in the tradition of the opera with the silent expression of a  scream pushing the narrative to a fevered pitch, then the scream, the sequence ends with a long shot of the exterior of the opera house, dissolve to Michael dancing with his daughter, then with Apollonia his Sicilian first wife who was killed, then with Kay, dissolving to him sitting looking much older on a chair frame centre outside in the garden, presumably in Sicily, he puts on his dark glasses, cut to him off centre at the edge of the frame, dogs hovering near the chair that Michael drops off, presumably dead, a death even lonelier than his father Vito who dies playing with his grandson.

As an aside, the term Godfather or Godmother within its original Christian context, is for the persons who are given the responsibility of the spiritual nurturing of a child, now of course it’s just tokenism or a farce. In the movie Michael gets his Godson’s father killed and Connie poisons her Godfather, Don Altobelo, both  deserving to die, but a sacred bond is violated.

The new version has the dissolve to Michael dancing with Mary, the two wives are omitted, there is a dissolve to Michael but off-centre with the dogs, we go close, he puts on his darkies, fade to a Sicilian saying which goes: When the Sicilians wish you “cent’anni” it means “for long life”. The rational is supposedly that the death of Michael Corleone is not the physical death; this seems a bit pointless but we can I suppose live with it, though I prefer the original, which despite suggesting an actual death, though the film itself suggests other kinds of death. I’m also told a web series sequel is in the works, who know if that is the true motivation for the new ending.

Unfortunately, the beginning seems to be far more problematic and actually wrecks the original film more seriously.

In the re-edit he begins with a shot of the shady Archbishop Gidley telling Michael about his money mismanagement in the Vatican Bank, a shot trying to evoke the begining of Part.1 where Bonasera speaks, both Vito and Michael, in 1 & 3 respectively are initially back to camera; the sequence ends with an unholy deal, where Michael, who says all his  businesses are legitimate, asks for control of the European conglomerate Immobiliare with the help of the Papal ratification, in return for his making good the money loss. This version opens like this to presumably clarify the Vatican deal, but it was always as clear; besides it was not the fundamental theme, only a device to place things within a context.

We then move to Michael writing to his children from his current New York residence, the camera moves across a family picture, you only see his hands and the letter; they have left Lake Tahoe, this is years later, in the late 70s, he writes about the importance of the family as an institution, his love for them  and invites them to the ceremony where he is being honored, a papal order induction ceremony, he also asks them to get their mother to come. We strangely miss the ceremony, a very important one and skip to the reception for the same……

A huge loss, which becomes clear when one revisits the original opening.

The earlier version begins with shots of the exterior of their Lake Tahoe residence in a state of decrepitude; we see a hint of the structure where the first communion of Anthony, Michael’s son, was celebrated years ago, a statue with a cross, we cut to the interior: desolate and see outside through a window grill which looks like a spider’s web; we hear the voice-over of the same  Michael letter to his children, we cut to an exterior of the house with autumn leaves, and to a cityscape of New York to the interior of a house moving across the family photographs where Michael is writing the letter. We do not see him, only his hand and the page; we then have the papal induction ceremony at a church, the voice-over of the letter continues across all these images. The church ceremony has Michael standing; Archbishop Gidley is conducting the proceedings, we do not yet know of his crooked ways, the Latin part of the service is being recited by Gidley, Michael is still standing, cut to a flashback of the murder of Fredo from Part 2, probably the most horrifying and heartbreaking moment in the trilogy, constructed brilliantly both visually with the almost plaintive sound and flight of birds and Michael behind the French windows. In this version of the Fredo killing, we have the intermingling of the original sound, including Fredo reciting  Hail Mary and the current sound from the church; we then cut back to a slightly top-ish angle of Michael kneeling, the ceremony continues. This cut to the murder interrupting the flow of the ceremony is a masterstroke, it states what I think is the most important aspect of this film; it is probably the only act of his that Michael can’t come to terms with and makes him realise he can never attain a state of grace, the dropping of this sequence in the re-edit is a grave error. It expands later sequences, like when Kay and Michael discuss Anthony’s future when Mary asks Vincent if Michael killed his brother, when Michael gives Anthony the sketch in Sicily, during the time of Michael’s diabetic stroke, in his conversation with Connie in Sicily, but above all when Cardinal Lamberto asks Michael to confess, this is a sequence on which Michael’s whole life pivots maybe even the trilogy, he does confess knowing fully well its futility, the ramifications of this within the Catholic system of faith is terrifying. This intercutting between religious ritual and murder throughout the trilogy is calibrated with precision, it is not just contrasting the two. In Part 3 the church is equated with crime and politics; even though we know the church’s criminal past from the beginning of its history, Coppola brings it back to our notice here. To explain what I mean by a calibrated precision, let’s look at the shoot out in the first film; it is not just about cutting between the Christian ritual of baptism and the killing of Michael’s enemies but how he does it and at what point he cuts.

The sequence begins in the church. Michael and Kay as Godparents with the baby, Connie’s child, the priest recites in Latin; there are intercuts between the church service and the assassins preparing for the multiple kills, the church service sound and recitation is continuous, alternating between the diegetic and the non-diegetic. Back to church: Michael is asked in English by the priest, Do you believe in God the Father almighty creator of heaven and earth, he replies, I do: no cut away here. In the following two questions, which Michael answers, the sound is non-diegetic on the assassins and their targets: no killings yet.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only son our lord –  I do.

Do you believe in the Holy Ghost the Holy Catholic Church – I do.

The priest recites Latin; the sound is continuous over the church ritual and the gangster activity.

Back to English addressed to the child but answered by Michael.

Question: Michael Francis Rizzi, do you renounce Satan, the continuity of the audio is cut for the first time,  cut to Pat Clemenza killing the first in a series of murders.

Cut back to the church. Micheal answers, I do. This sudden interruption to the question of renouncing Satan is an important marker, as is the cutaway to the murder of Fredo, both impacting and enhancing the saga.

There are one or two omissions of lesser importance which I won’t mention but shouldn’t have been made.

– Kiran David

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A Night in Tunisia, Or, A Bus Ride to BKC

August 9, 2019 at 7:35 am (Essay, Kiran David, The Arts)

After recently revisiting Proust’s. “In search of lost time” after a gap of 48 years, I watched Raul Ruiz’s ” Time Regained” a work I was familiar with, the title of which is the last volume of the literary masterwork.

Bob Halliday about 10 or even 20 years older then I, three times my girth, when I last saw him: used to eat Durians, marvelous fruit, albeit an acquired taste. He with cohorts would eat the fruit and belch in closed public places much to the horror or more likely disgust of the surrounding mini mass of humanity.

Proust with his ruminations is impossible to film, or, should I say the “terrible”, simulate in the medium we call cinema, the last volume, ” Time regained” even more so, the section, beginning with the time Marcel, the Narrator, who is both not Proust and Proust, in the book, the film credits him as Marcel Proust, trips on a stone tile till his time spent in the Prince de Guermantes library, a section of over 100 pages with ruminations that inform a crucial decision, and the artistic process.

In 2000 Bob Halliday, a retired journalist living in Bangkok, I thought or wanted to believe was CIA, from the 60s, an American, a film and classical music buff and the guy who has, if still alive, the best knowledge of Thai food, possibly in the world. Thai’s seek his advice. Jirawaid Wongtangjian, a Chinese Thai, spiritual, in a Buddhist sense also has a profound knowledge of food. He owned a delightful DVD shop off Sukhumvit, latter rented out to another business. I chanced upon, Alfred Birnbaum translator of some of the Murakami Haruki books into English. He was also a journalist and a concert level pianist, who seemed to know well, how,  the reasons hazy to me, Kuldeep Nayar, Something Kyoko whose surname was never mentioned, Japanese, she taught aesthetics as professor in Hungary and finally I, the regular tapori from Mumbai were heading to a 130 year old, at that time, restaurant, which only Bob and Jirawaid called Jirwo knew of.

The importance of this place was that it specialised in ancient authentic Bangkok cuisine, something not available easily, at least not commercially, the food is extremely subtle and refined, different to what we know as Thai food, which is really the rural, having seeped into the city and colonised the tourist mind and then the world, a few years prior, Jirwo, the wife and I were lunching in a regular Thai joint in Silom, with some unusual options, when in popped an opulent desi tourist family overdressed for any occasion and especially the heat, sat down.

Kyoko, for reasons more obscure than Jude Usiscartiot, was worried that the dinner would prevent her perusal of a world cup match, happening in some far away part of the world, but most certainly on Television with multiple verbose opinions, voiced by tiresome experts, featuring that moment a footballer and probably unwittingly honey trap, of those years named David Beckham, he probably chose like Chester and his chest NUTS. Reeking of money and overpowering perfume, they ordered with clumsy language, fortunately, punctuated with a sense of rhythm, by the waiter’s no: no: no: to their, GREEN CURRY, YELLOW CURRY, RED CURRY. Appalled, they shouted, ” What kind of a Thai restaurant is this?”, then,walked out. We convinced Kyoko that sampling of choice superior viands, offered greater possibilities to the human experience, than watching a third party kick what appears to be an inflated ball, in the bargain, perchance having his kicked; in the heat of the moment.

A year earlier Bob, Jirwo and I were wondering, despite agreeing that the Ruiz film did indeed come as close as possible to a cinematic option and that the cast was by and large exemplary, Deneuve: Odette, Béart: Gilberte, Gregorry : St – Loup,Perez: Morel, Scob: Oriane de Guermantes, Pisier: Madame Verdurin, Mastroianni:Albertine, Vadim: Bloch, the virtually unknown Italian actor Mazzarella: Marcel voiced by the famous movie and opera director Chéreau and though they do not appear in the book, their journals do and is discussed.

The great Nouveau Roman writer Alain Robbe-Grillet as one of the Goncourts, though persuaded, Kyoko: was on occasion, though not often, prey to thoughts of football and Beckham, the restaurant was thankfully despite its marvelous food, somewhat unhip and did not possess a TV. You came here to eat marvels. Kyoko was trying to glean through the environment to locate the device this purveyor of manipulative synthetic electronic images.

The problem was how does one deal with Malkovich playing the most complex character in the book Le Baron de Charlus: Charlus whose character evolves in its complexities across seven volumes some 3700 pages, whose traits will find echos in both minor and major characters, distracted, five sets of chop sticks with delectable fish between suspended mid-air between bowl and lip, a sentence emerges a question in fact to me uttered through a chorus in unison by the four I was dining with, have you they ask 370 articles of transparent lacy revealing underthings, NO, I sez, 35 teeth though , lost one rotten, and extracted, though that was then, later, time acts, two more bit the dust, at 2hrs 40 odd minutes, it would be impossible to compress the whole of the last volume, which if truth be told is not being. attempted by the filmmaker, Bob as himself, is in a couple of short stories by S.P. Somtow, the stories, fiction in English.

Don’t forget Bob’s your Uncle. Miike Takeshi’s star was rising internationally those days, 75 films in 10 years, Audition, meanwhile, Vicious Buckramjit Mullgawtawny maybe stately and plump drags Ghoshtaba who Walkeshwars, to our table interrupting our meal, Ghoshtaba shrieks, the virtuous and the evil are as always equally wrong, they walk like headless chickens in a viscous fog, forever: ignorant fucks, pontificators, he degenerates farting, a blob on the floor. The Ghost of Hamid Ali Khan, dead then for two years, many more now, erstwhile hunter and actor, howls from the neighbouring table, having been deprived by faith of the porcine, for Singapore style spare ribs soup Bak Kuet.

The waiter says to him in Thai, this is Bangkok, Khan leans toward a girl, alive, Mona Darling; sitting across him, he wraps a dead peacock round her neck: a stole and whispers, Tha Mor Ab No Mor, discussing Ruiz’s work further, while chomping some shredded beef, we agreed that there would be two types of viewers, meaning, of serious disposition, those who hadn’t read the book and those who did, not included are those buffoons who always say you need to read the book to understand the film or the other type who feels the film betrays the book, both irrelevant but that’s another discussion, “O Propheta, Certe Penis Tuus Cælum Versus Erectus Est!”
The repast was prodigious, bill payed, late into the night or maybe early morning the five of us embarked in what was referred to as a Durian hunt under the tutelage of Bob and Jirwo, Miike wanted to meet Bob to make a film on the Somtow story Bob was in as Bob. Bob refused to be observed. Bob, Bob Bob too mant Bobs, the hunt was to essentially visit wholesalers of fruit and source the best available that night or technically morning.

Somtow was considered a musical prodigy, western orchestral, as a child he wrote music, educated in England and belonged to the royal family. Somtow Papinian Sucharitkul. Looking for THE Durian walking the streets, Beckham surfaced briefly, but was quickly laid to rest.

*****COMPOSTELA*****

There are all sort of stories about Somtow, he was a musical wizz, his first poem was published by the Bangkok post called ” Kith of infinity” when he was 11 quoted by Shirley Maclaine in her bio, mistaking him for a woman, saying to Kyoko and others that I wished to make a pilgrimage to Compostela, Symphonies, a Ballet and a Requiem based on the poetry of Whitman, Dickinson and Eliot, are his contributions to music, Kyoko is unlocked talks about Compostela with a tremendous intelligence and wit, dumping the last vestiges of Beckham in the gutter, we get a rare Durian that is getting extinct, the Nontaburi Durian, the finest in the world, expensive too, Ruiz, I say to the folks, that my reason for the pilgrimage is not religious, nor to see the architecture or place but, the seeds are small compared to other types, there seems to be fused parallel worlds that simultaneously exist in the short stories of Somtow.

Bangkok for me I’ve always experienced, as the melding of two grids real/ virtual; this DURIAN is the fruit, rare almost extinct even then, what :now, one can exist between these two cities at the same time unaware, but experiencing both, concurrently, only Bangkok: not even Tokyo or HK, the division is more pronounced, there is a rupture, obvious, to experience the residual exaltation of Bunuel on the path lingering in the air imbuing the place with heresy, Ruiz, to those who know the source, is in fact not making a film version of the last volume, there are many replicated occurrences, but a work that evokes the entire novel, triggering our memories of the book and life: a dialogue. To those not familiar but attentive to the film it expresses Proust’s ideas and art concisely.

We head to Bob’s house 3:30 in the morning, to watch the Miike crossover film Audition, we have one concern with Time Regained. Somtow is waiting for us at Bob’s, jeez need to enquire if he is still alive, Uncle Bob, I mean, maybe I’ll email him and await an answer or a silence.

After the film, Jirwo and I drop Kyoko who lives on the way by tuk tuk. The fin of the dragon emerges, before crashing out, I use an interdental brush to remove flecks, there are concerns about the film: Ruiz’s I mean, tends to on a couple of occasions illustrate ideas, evocation is the thing, however, a minor issue. FORGIVABLE. Family Court doors open.

Don’t forget Bob’s YOUR UNCLE, YOUR UNCLE, YOUR UNCLE, MON ONCLE, MON ONCLE, MON ONCLE,

MON ONCLE d’Amérique.

– Kiran David

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Czech Mate – In Search of Jiri Menzel #jirimenzel

May 25, 2018 at 6:32 pm (Cinema, Kiran David) (, )

I have to confess there are very few documentaries that really interest me; as for peddling nobility of intent – I give a rat’s arse. For me it almost becomes difficult to see most of them. The documentaries I love manage to pivot on the cusp of reality and fiction. Hence the works of Marker, Godard, Ackerman, Varda, Resnais, Kiarostami, Matsumoto, Ivens and quite often, Herzog, have a special resonance for me. This doesn’t mean I do not see other documentaries. While there are exceptions, most of them are mundane.

HOWEVER

Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s (normally known as Shivi) 7 hour-15 minute film, the financially demanding and crippling labour of love made over 8 years “Czech Mate” (In search of Jiri Menzel) is astonishing. Transcending the interview format film besides being a work of heroic endeavour.

What started as maybe a 90-min film on Menzel evolved into a window to the Czech new wave.

Menzel is still the central figure, but a whole era of the New Wave is evoked through the experiences of practitioners and their response to Jiri Menzel’s work. Shivi has managed to interview every living member of the movement and some of their precursors, mentors, current directors, cameramen, film historians and critics. Unfortunately, Otakar Vavra, teacher at FAMU, filmmaker and mentor, passed away (a little over a 100) a few days before he was to be interviewed. In the course of the completion of the film about 10 filmmakers who were interviewed passed away.

Other than the Czech greats we are familiar with, present in the project are the great now 90-plus Vojtěch Jasný whose “Cassandra Cat” I’m desperate to see. Also besides Věra Chytilová, we get to hear the other great woman director, Drahomira Vihanova, whose work I have unfortunately never seen. Alongside Czech and Slovakian film makers also featured are Wajda, Loach, Allen, Holland, Coutard, Kusturica, Zafranovic and Czech/Slovenian cinema authority and author, Peter Hames. The notable absentee among the living is Milan Kundera, who did teach at FAMU. Reticent for years, he generally doesn’t talk to anyone. He did agree this one time thanks to a request on the phone by Menzel, but a bomb blast in Paris drove him back to his shell.

What Shivi does with great intelligence is not impose a forced perspective on the work. He gives enough latitude to the participants and the film form to express ideas and emotion. As the work unfolds we experience the art that emerged and suffered along with its creators under the communist regime. A filmmaker says, “Hitler killed many… Stalin more.”  Telling us that the leftist governments in power also tended toward a tyranny and a kind of fascism. During the less than 8- month Prague Spring where Dubček tried to give a humane face to communism, many films were made but were banned by the time they were ready for release, only to find an audience some 20 years later in the 1990s, thanks to the Russian invasion. Directors who stayed in Czechoslovakia had to face persecution; even those who were not antagonistic openly, like Menzel, had to make compromises, or use codes to express their ideas.  Evald Schorm, often referred to as the saint of the movement, went through great suffering. Some of the directors defected, but only Forman found sucess, though his American works pale in comparison to his works at home. Jan Němec, the great master who made “Diamonds in the Night” and “A Report on the Party and the Guests” too defected to the States, but did not succeed. He jokes that he invented the Wedding Video. But behind the chuckle and bravado lies pain.

Magda Vášáryová, the actress of Menzel’s wonderful satire “Cutting it short” (based on the writings of   Bohumil Hrabal who along with Vladislav Vančura are the greatest Czech writers of the 20th century) was a victim of the so-called free western Europe. She was pelted with eggs by feminists for acting in the film. Hicks rabid with an agenda, however worthwhile, but lacking the intelligence to understand the subtleties and context of a work are no better than Mutalik’s goons beating up young women at pubs in Mangalore. Unlike them, Magda Vášáryová would bravely protest against the ruling dispensation, while government-armed snipers were placed on the rooftops ready to shoot. She did later become a Slovakian minister.

While Menzel, the central figure in the documentary, is admired, he is also criticised. The great documentary filmmaker, Karel Vachek whose films I haven’t yet seen, is particularly critical of his work. At one point criticising Menzel’s “My sweet little village” (written by   Zdeněk Svěrá), he calls it kitsch, and says at least with Hrabal’s work Menzel did not make kitsch. Vachek then begs pardon for being vulgar, and says the difference between him and Menzel is similar to that between Dostoevsky and Turgenev.

More importantly, however, the film is not a banal dispenser of facts; the work treats the audience with respect and allows for a healthy interaction between the viewer and his, her or its intelligence with the film; a tenuous matrix is formed between the perceiver and the perceived. It is one of the rare cases in Indian cinema where the filmmaker dares to use dead time to fine effect. The work, through its very being, evokes heroic endeavour, an artistic quest, a cultural context and the horrors of a terrifying political system.

– Kiran David.

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Drudgery Buildings

August 2, 2016 at 11:33 am (Dominic Alapat, Poetry)

grey in the rain

same old place

of people

going about

busy

on foot

in vehicles

flowing down

S V Road here

this drab dull day

this sewage of a city

in the downpour

this slushland

these crowded traffic horns

barking like mad dogs

these skies roaring in horror

these windows on edge

making my mind sweat

in rivers of randomness

I find myself drowning

amidst a million lives

I cannot understand

anything of

I cannot understand anything.

– Dominic Alapat

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Sometimes Here At Night

June 20, 2016 at 5:19 pm (Dominic Alapat, Poetry)

the moon howls so loud

I cannot sleep

the buildings wake

to a sky so drained

of blood in her blue face

the stars scared

all run from place

and fall into the darkness

one by one

in this mad night

so angry

it just won’t let go

of this terrified time’s tail

I must lie here in bed blank

my open eyes so strained

I could burst

any moment

and die.

-Dominic Alapat

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Life In Memory

May 15, 2016 at 4:29 pm (Dominic Alapat, Poetry)

that is the food

you eat

that is all you are allowed

and there are gardens of flowers

words words like air

you breathe

that keep you going

and when that connection is weak

you are sad

poetry and pain

in each other’s arms

in this one life

alone together

and the day smiles wickedly

the superior sun with its burning countenance

is blasé cruel blaring its bad heat

into your breaking mind

so mad so mad

your brain blows its fuse

and goes out

and only now do the dark clouds appear

in the sky in the morning

and burst into rain

these are your tears

this the sound of your cry

haunting the sky

your voice

soon washed into silence

-Dominic Alapat

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You Said

April 10, 2016 at 8:12 am (Dominic Alapat, Poetry, Uncategorized)

you were walking
with a bucket in your hand
you said God was in the bucket
you said you walked for hours
along this road in a foreign country
while cars went zzzupp zzzupp
in the afternoon
many years later I met you once
outside my house
you were drunk
you played your piano in that hall
and hit us
we sang
transported
on a sea of song
we sailed to Rome
O captain at the helm
see this soldier
marching off to war
in his helmet and armour
his mother weeping
we ran like deer through the woods
chased by a burning moon
we sang and the hall rang with our voices
vive la vive la vive l’amour
your wife had died…
many years after your own death
today I think of your dark glasses
your grief.

– Dominic Alapat

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We Are Tree

March 6, 2016 at 1:48 pm (Dominic Alapat, Poetry)

bird
singing angel
in the blue bush
of the sky
when we stand
at windows
in the cool air
of the morning
the buildings race
like a symphony
till the eye can see
the mind register
this beautiful expanse
this silent music of the senses
charmed
begin to soar
in the darkness
that is clearing.

– Dominic Alapat

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Over The Sea

February 7, 2016 at 8:22 am (Dominic Alapat, Poetry)

~ For Adil Jussawalla

the birds fly in one straight line
the golden sea in early evening
a hazy smell of brine hangs in the air
there’s the white lighthouse
and the boats
a yacht
with a triangle of white sail
a speedboat leaving
a long white line
in the water
and nearby the lanes
leading to Sassoon Dock
the old lime-washed buildings
almost black
like ghost houses
their red-tiled roofs
faded brown
grey
the flowering trees
like a beautiful forest of colours
orange red white
the crossroads with vehicles plying
the red BEST buses
the people on the footpaths
taking their tiny lives about
the big white skyscrapers here
their windows
their terraces with antennas
the patches of green land
in the distance
the blue mountains beyond
and the birds
always the birds
crows herons pigeons
flying in this sky
while we talk
in your house here
18 stories above the ground.

– Dominic Alapat

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If I Was A Painter

December 5, 2015 at 4:40 pm (Dominic Alapat, Poetry)

 I would paint the scene

outside my window this morning

Mograpada in mist

the small brown houses

in the distance

the railway tracks beyond

all hazy

the signal poles the buildings

and the trains slowly ambling

its like a scene

from some dream

a painting

in beautiful hues of whites blues and earth

I would draw

this local paradise

but it was while I was thinking this

that the best part happened

when an engine blew

its loud melodious horn

and had the final word.

 

– Dominic Alapat

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