Saturday, October 01, 2005

Are you 'in'?

'In' jokes are exactly that, a nudge, a wink and a hat tip in the direction of an influence or a favorite of some sort, that only people who are 'in' on it will understand. Literary allusions in movies that need explanation and context are part of the game. Sequels, of course enjoy using it a lot.

George Thomas has considerable fun with classic B-movie, Western and Eastern influences on Quentin Tarantino, displaying a depth and breadth of knowledge that boggles the mind. This means he probably enjoys QT and Robert Rodriguez movies ten times more than I do.

I don't claim to be an authority, but (slightly) offbeat music is where my mojo lies. I have the most fun watching movies where the soundtrack is likely to be important. (See Cameron Crowe, or watch any movie with John Cusack in creative control - Grosse Pointe Blank or High Fidelity). A moment of epiphany this weekend was watching Vanilla Sky. I picked up a few electronica tracks that I knew (including Thievery Corporation's lovely Indra), and songs from here and there, including U2, the Beach Boys and Radiohead. Nothing spectacular, just an interesting bunch of songs used as part of the soundtrack. I personally prefer that over the John Williams' soaring violins style of music, especially for contemporary romantic comedies/ dramas.

I digress. So, there is a scene in the movie where the starting guitar riff from Jeff Buckley's "Last Goodbye" plays.

The scene doesn't justify it. (No spoilers here). You don't expect a last goodbye riff at that point. (The lyrics of the song) So, here I am, wondering about appropriateness of songs vis รก vis situations in the film.

However, the movie makes its way through ill-defined reality and well-defined dreams. Just as you lose track of what is real and what is not towards the end, the loose ends start pulling together. It is a farewell scene in the real world, just before the dreams (and nightmares) begin.

How dare I not trust Cameron Crowe?

On another note, the movie was interesting, but middling. Not compelling stuff. Nowhere close to Almost Famous, and definitely not a crowd-pleaser like Jerry Maguire. And, finally, an opposite number (Penelope Cruz) with whom Tom Cruise has palpable on-screen chemistry. I thought that that particular honor would be reserved for Dustin Hoffman forever.

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