Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Lunchbox: let's talk!


We never get to see the face of the old aunt living upstairs, in the flat above Ila's. All we get, throughout the movie, is her VOICE. The Lunchbox is all about communication.

Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan) is an extreme loner who has never really communicated with people after his wife's death. He just does his achingly boring job and goes back to his empty apartment day after day. Ila (Nimrat Kaur) is a lonely housewife whose husband is always out at work (and possibly cheating on her). When he is at home he never really talks to her (doesn't even look at her properly). The old aunt living upstairs is a lonely old woman whose husband cannot talk (Ila tells us he just keeps staring at the ceiling fan). They are all lonely souls who, whether they know it or not, feel the terrible need to communicate.

So they talk to each other. It doesn't matter the fact that they are strangers and not really related to each other in any significant way. It doesn't matter that they are talking about something utterly banal and not something important or interesting. It doesn't matter that they are talking to the wrong person. What matters is that they talk, and that their talk be honest. The misplaced lunchbox and the food just become an excuse for two lonely strangers to communicate with each other. An excuse for sending letters to each other (Hence, the allusion to Sanjay Dutt's Saajan). And, the love that occurs between them is not a physical love. They never meet! It's a love that's developed out of pure communication.

Saajan isn't a particularly likable person. He's reticent and rude. He isn't friendly with others. He isn't kind to children. He isn't helpful. But there is one thing good about him: He is very honest. He's real. Whatever he says, he means it. There is no falseness in him. The first time Saajan replies to Ila, he, instead of thanking her, tells her that the food was salty. It is perhaps rude, but, at least, it's honest - unlike her husband's praises. He only lies at one point in the movie: when he tells his boss that he had made all errors in the file, and not Shaikh. But that becomes such a beautiful lie, because, for the first time, he explicitly shows KINDNESS towards another person. He lies not in order to deceive or cheat, but in order to save another person.


Shaikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), on the other hand, is extremely talkative. He talks too much and all the time. There is a childish innocence about him. He is curious and enthusiastic about everything. His personality wavers between being annoying and charming.  In that sense, he couldn't be any different from Saajan. Saajan is very taciturn, jaded, and indifferent. And yet he is similar to Saajan in one fundamental way: He is extremely honest, too.  His honesty exudes through his voice, his eyes, his body-language. He lies and cons here and there, but he does that all out of necessity and for a greater good, and never with the intention of hurting or deceiving another person. Plus, despite having a good wife, he's also a loner. He does not really have his own people around him. At his wedding, the only person by his side is Saajan!


All these people Sajjan meets become an incentive for Saajan to learn to love human beings once again. This movie charts Saajan's transformation from being a misanthropic loner to being a person who is ready accept people in his life. He tells us that he is looking forward to go to Nashik after his retirement. But, by the end, he doesn't go there. Nashik, according to Wikipedia, is said to be the place where Lord Rama spent his 14 year exile. So, in other words, Saajan doesn't go to exile. He decides to live among the people. The last shot of him sitting in a train surrounded by a group of people singing and clapping.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Lost in Translation: Americanized Japan

I'm big in Japan! I'm big in Japan! - Tom Waits


Most of us tend to look at Japan as a country that's an antithesis of America. The supposed quietness, diffidence, courtesy, and slow lifestyle of Japanese people represent a stark contrast to the loudness, openness, speed, and the vulgarity of the Americans. However, what we see in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation is a Japan (or, at least, Tokyo) that's transforming itself into America. A westernized Japan. Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), two Americans who have come to Japan, see skyscrapers, neon lights, and advertising hoardings everywhere, as though they are in New York City. The view of Tokyo from Charlotte's room looks just like Manhattan. The Japanese ad filmmakers who direct Bob seem to be very much influenced by American culture, asking Bob to imitate all kinds of American movie actors. Bob himself is a has-been actor in America, but he seems to be somewhat big in Japan.


The Japanese seem to love Americans. However, Bob and Charlotte themselves are two Americans who seem to be weary of Americans. Throughout the movie, both of them constantly try to escape from or ignore Americans: when Bob's American fans recognize him and mention his "great car-chase scene", he runs away from them. He also tells his wife, "I don't want all that pasta. I want to take care of myself. I would like to start eating healthy... like Japanese food." Likewise, Charlotte looks at the blonde actress with an amusement and almost a disdain. She appears bored and literally leaves the restaurant when her husband and his friends talk about American phenomenon like "hip-hop" and "anorexia". She seems to be tired of who she is and seem to be searching for something different. She and Bob both show interest in Japanese culture.


However, when they encounter pure Japanese culture, it is all too foreign and unfamiliar to them. They just can't understand it or make sense of it. After visiting the Buddhist shrine, Charlotte tells her friend that she "did not feel anything." Bob constantly has problem communicating with Japanese people who can't speak English. Likewise, when they try to order food at a Japanese restaurant, they are unable to tell the difference between the different kind of food available in the menu.

So they find themselves in a position where they no longer want their old life, but the new life they want to adopt is all too strange and foreign to them. As a result, they seem to be literally lost in translation. They don't know what to do with the state they are in. Things around them are changing (or, on the verge of changing) and they don't know what to do with it. Charlotte tells Bob, "I'm stuck." Bob tells his wife "I'm completely lost." At one point in the movie, they try to adopt the American lifestyle. They go out and party and try to be loud and open, but they literally have to be the opposite of what they are in order to act that way: Bob literally wears his t-shirt inside-out; Charlotte wears a wig. And, even then, it only lasts a while, and they find themselves back to who they are.


It is this feeling of being lost and being out of place in a rapidly changing world and not knowing what to do about it that seem to bond Charlotte and Bob. They both are going through a critical phase in their life, they both are in a foreign land, and they both seem completely lost. They recognize this fact in each other and find a strange kind of solace in each other's presence. And, by the end, what occurs between them is a kind of love that is beyond mere physical attraction and something beyond the  realm of language. What occurs between them is something that cannot be put into words. We literally don't get to hear what Bob whispers to Charlotte at the end of movie.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

on "Inside Llewyn Davis"


At first glance, Inside Llewyn Davis looks like one of those "an artist living for Art" kind of movies. We see the life of a "great" singer not wanting to sell his soul and, as a result, struggling to make a living. The whole plot, indeed, revolves around the idea of a "struggling artist". However, it is way this idea is treated in this movie that makes this movie so different and special from the rest. The Coen Brothers take the cliched idea of a "struggling artist" and gives a refreshingly smart and twisted take on it: although it's a movie about a struggling artist living in a "cold world", instead of sympathizing with the artist, as we generally tend to do in such movies, here we end up not sympathizing with him.

The whole movie, I'd say, is an exercise in point-of-view. I think we are meant to see everything from Llewyn Davis's perspective. When the movie begins, we are literally inside Llewyn Davis. Almost everyone and everything in the movie is a bit exaggerated in their negative aspects because that's how Llewyn Davis sees it: Beside his music, he sees everything as either stupid or boring or horrible. The world looks a bit too cold and blue, his girlfriend appears mean and angry all the time, the two people with him on the road trip look unbelievably boring, the guests that come to his apartment have distorted, weird, and ugly faces, the guy from military acts very annoying, his singing partners appear ridiculous... only Llewyn's singing seems beautiful. When Llewyn sings, we get extreme close-ups of him, as though he's lost in his own heaven, as though we are listening to the greatest singer in the world... because that's how he sees himself, and not because that's how he is. In reality, things might have been different. And, indeed, the movie gives us enough clues to suggest that things aren't the way Llewyn Davis seems to perceive it. His girlfriend helps him get a job, the doctor doesn't charge him extra money, people give him free rides, they let him live in their house, and they forgive his insensitive acts. Of course, Llewyn is oblivious and indifferent to all this. In a sense, the joke is on him.

Llewyn Davis, like his name, is a difficult person to live with. He's cocksure, insensitive, and vain. He is, in a way, like Don Quixote. He may mean to do well, but he's just acting stupid. He thinks very highly of his art and of himself as an artist, and thinks that everything else as worthless or ugly. And, therefore, he has a very strong conscience when it comes to art. I think the cat represents his "conscience": it always tries to escape but he doesn't let it. We literally see him feeding it and letting it walk all over him. (There might be other interpretations, but that's how I read the cat. Maybe it has to do with the fact that cats have haunting eyes that seem to see through you.) As a result of all this, he never ends up anywhere. He keeps having a bad time all through the movie. He gets ample opportunity to make things better for himself, but, because he is a stupid asshole, he loses them and just ends up remaining pathetic.

The movie begins and ends with the same scene. At the beginning, when we see him get beaten by a stranger, we feel sorry for him and sympathize with him. We think it's unfair. But, by the end, when the exact scene is repeated, we don't feel sorry for him. We feel that he deserved it. If his life is needlessly difficult and sad, it is for the most part his own doing.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lootera (Not Just a Love Story)


Lootera, on the most basic level, is of course a love story - and not just a love story but a very ordinary love story (the sort we've seen one time too many): A bad guy meets a good girl. Bad guy decides to become good. Bad guy has to face his past (conflict). Bad guy overcomes his past with the sheer power of love. Lootera certainly has all of this, and yet to read this movie that way, I think, would be too simplistic and will not do any justice to the complexities and nuances of this film. After all, why is it a period film? What is the significance of the fake leaf? Why is the plot inspired by O’Henry short story “The Last leaf”? Why does Varun (Ranveer Singh) say he wants to paint a masterpiece? Why is Paakhi (Sonakshi Sinha) ill? Why the title “Lootera”? Why does the movie refer to Guru Dutt's “Baazi”? All these questions go unanswered if we read this movie simply as a love story. It begs to be read differently. There is a lot more going on beneath the surface of this love story. I think this movie, in a sense, is the opposite of Baazi and many other innumerable “Good vs Evil” Bollywood films. In most of those movies, it is the lower class that struggles against the tyranny and injustice of the upper class; in Lootera, it’s the upper class who are struggling. Most of those movies also tend to be about the “Evil” embracing the “Good” (which, of course, is not difficult. We see something good, we like it. It's easy to affirm goodness!). Lootera is interested in the opposite. Here it is "Good" having to embrace the "Evil". The main conflict of Lootera is not Varun having to come to terms with his past, but Paakhi having to come to terms with the darkness of this world. "How does an innocent soul like Paakhi survive in this new, dark world?" That seems to be the question Lootera is interested in.

Lootera is set in a village in India, in the early 50s, at a time when, to quote Bob Dylan’s great song, “The times they are a-changing.” Right at the beginning we learn that the old world is dying. "Duniya badal gayi hai..." says Paakhi's father. New rules, regulations, innovations, and customs are being implemented throughout the country and the days of the zamindaars are coming to an end. But as the old world collapses, we not only lose the bad aspects of it (aristocracy, hierarchy, inequality, etc.), but also the good aspects of it (order, simplicity, peace, innocence, morality, honesty, charm, vulnerability, tradition, etc.). Lootera is a movie concerned with this aspect of the old world. [The movie itself has a very old-world feeling to it: it’s an old-fashioned narrative told in a very traditional manner. The editing is seamless, the camera does not do anything fancy or call attention to itself (except for one scene towards the end), and the pacing is relaxed and relatively slow. Unlike most period films, the rich people (the zamindaars) here aren’t shown as evil people, but as really nice, simple, honest, down-to-earth people. The havelis and thakurs are not shown with the opulence, grandeur and melodramatic excess of Sanjay Bhansali,  nor does it have any fashionable cynicism and darkness of Anurag Kashyap (Both of whom were Motwane's mentors). The color of Paakhi's haveli is almost brown (earthy, to be precise), and it gives a feeling of nostalgia, warmth, and simplicity.] The new world brings with it not only freedom and equality, but also deceit, disenchantment, disbelief, chaos, and a lot of darkness.


Varun comes from this new world. He’s street-smart, modern, amoral. He’s someone who has seen a lot of darkness, and he seems to be tired of it. The first time we see him, he’s literally lying helpless under a tree. Even his voice is sedated, low, weak and soft, as if silenced by the darkness around him. He comes to the village as an archaeologist (albeit a fake one). An archaeologist is someone who is interested in old things. When Varun meets Paakhi, he's taken by her. Paakhi represents to him all that is beautiful about the old world: charm, innocence, simplicity, honesty, vulnerability, etc. dish, vulnerable, honest, moral, simple. She is also seriously ill and literally dying. It is when he realizes that she is seriously ill that he falls in love with her. Of course, due to complex circumstances and necessities, he ends up not only breaking her heart but looting everything of hers. Varun literally takes away from her everything she believed in and had been sheltered by. Paakhi, who had been living in a dream-world all this while, now suddenly has to face the darkness of this world: betrayal, heartbreak, cruelty, robbers, sickness, death, loss of loved ones... She almost becomes an embodiment of us (modern human beings), who are not being able to cope with and come to terms with the darkness around us and who just ends up willing death. She is literally counting her days (counting the leaves, to be precise). 


It's in the second half that the movie becomes quite complex. Unlike some crappy Bollywood films, the wounded female here does not take revenge on her "nemesis". Nor does she seek pity from him. She doesn’t want to take revenge, but is not forgiving, either. She is angry, but not dismissive. When Varun comes back, she begins to feel complexly about him (unlike the cop, for whom a robber is a robber, a murderer is a murderer, no matter what.) Rather than being judgmental, she tries to understand his position, albeit reluctantly. Likewise, Varun's response is also very complex. He does not repent for his wrongdoings! On the one hand, he justifies himself by explaining the necessity of it, on the other hand, he acknowledges that what he's done to her is unforgivable. He admits that he will never be able to forgive himself for it. So whatever good he tries to do for her becomes not an act of seeking redemption or forgiveness, but just a pure act of selfless love. He becomes almost the embodiment of darkness, a darkness (or, if I may say, though it might sound a bit far-fetched, ahem, of god) trying to justify this dark world that it has created. (The name Varun means "Deliverer from evil", if I'm to trust wikipedia!) 

And how does he justify? How does he deliver Paakhi? By hanging a fake leaf in the leafless, winter tree! If the winter tree is symbolic of Paakhi's lifeline as well as of this dark world and impermanence (Nature literally dying), then the fake leaf becomes symbolic not just of Paakhi's new life, but also of true love and, as well as, of affirming this dark world through Art (Varun asks her to affirm her life through her writings) and of immortality (It is the most fake thing in the tree and yet it is the one that will not fall.) It is Varun's masterpiece. The world has changed and it is impossible to go back to the old world (belief in order, god, morality, innocence, etc.) and if we are to embrace this new world we ought to do it through the affirmation of Love and Art. That's what the movie seems to be insinuating. When Paakhi smiles at the end, it is not the smile of innocence (there is sorrow and tears, but also contentment and peace); it is a smile of reconciliation and understanding. If "Udaan" was Vikramaditya Motwane's flight from the bourgeoisie to a new world, then "Lootera", I'd say, is his affirmation of this new world through Art and Love.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Himesh Reshammiya Vs Nawazuddin Siddique

"Even a wise man acts according to his own nature. All beings follow their nature. What good can repression do?" - Bhagavad Gita


There is a lot in common between Himesh Reshammiya and Nawazuddin Siddique: both look plain, unfashionable, desi; both come from relatively lower class, and both speak poor English. But, most of us tend to laugh at and make fun of Himesh whereas we love and respect Nawazuddin. Why is that so? If both look "ugly" and both speak poor English, why is it that one is laughable and the other is laudable?

Well, one obvious answer would be to say that Nawaz is a great actor whereas Himesh is a terrible actor. And, indeed, that is true. However, I don't think that is the real reason why we respect Nawaz and ridicule Himesh. After all, it's not just in their on-screen image but in their off-screen image too that we have these sentiments about them. I think the real reason (which, in one sense, is quite simple but, in another sense, rather profound) is this: Nawaz acts according to his own nature whereas Himesh doesn't.

What I understand and mean by "acting according to one's own nature" is that one takes the way one is (one's own individuality, identity, characteristics, comportment, disposition, strengths, weaknesses, capabilities, limitations, circumstances, etc.) into account when one acts. Himesh never does that. He never acts according to his own nature. He is very desi and plain-looking, but he acts like he's very westernized and good-looking. He isn't cool, but he acts like he is. He isn't really talented, but he takes himself very seriously, as though he is someone special or extraordinary. He's a B-grade music composer, but he acts like he's one of the greats. He can barely compose music, but he thinks he can also sing, dance, write, act, produce, and direct! He thinks he can do anything! He does not accept his limitations.

But then I think to myself isn't that a good thing? Isn't it all about overcoming your "limitations" (are they limitations, in the first place?) Maybe! But the problem with Himesh is that he isn't trying to overcome his limitations, he already acts like he’s overcome them. He doesn't try to be cool, he already acts as though he’s cool. That is to say, he isn't accepting or acknowledging his limitations; he's either ignoring or repressing them. He tries to hide the fact that he's half-bald by constantly putting on caps and wigs; he tries to ignore the fact that he's desi by speaking English, and he tries to deny the fact that he's a loser by acting like he's a Rock star. And, of course, it all ends up looking ridiculous. It’s like a donkey trying to act like a lion. 

Which is why we laugh at him. We aren't laughing at Himesh because he looks ugly or because he can’t speak English; we are laughing at him because he pretends like he’s handsome and can speak English. We aren't mocking him because he's a loser; we are mocking him because he acts like a hero. In other words, we are laughing at his arrogance, his self-importance, his delusions of grandeur, his demented sense of his own capabilities, and not at his limitations or weaknesses per se. He thinks he is being confident and cool, but, in truth, what comes out is his self-hatred: underneath it all, he is actually ashamed of himself and rejecting who he is. We find him laughable because he does not respect the way he is. 

Nawazuddin, on the other hand, respects the way he is and acts by taking his own nature into consideration. He is very, very aware of who he is and what he is capable of. He knows that he is not the typical Bollywood hero material, so he does not try to romance beautiful girls and dance around the trees and beat up the baddies. He does roles that suit his image and the way he is. He's aware that he isn't good-looking or fashionable, and he's not ashamed of it. He acknowledges it, accepts it, and uses it for his advantage. He doesn't try to act cool; he makes his uncoolness look cool. He doesn't try to be western; he celebrates his desi-ness. He respects who he is and where he comes from. And that is why we love and respect him as well. He is not ashamed of who he is. But that is not to say that he is content with who he is. (To be content with oneself is to be self-complacent. When you are self-complacent, you become passive and do nothing.) He isn't content about not being able to speak good English; and he acknowledges that fact and works on it. He probably too wishes he were good-looking and stylish like, say, John Abraham, but he's wise enough to know that it's very improbable for him to be that way, so he does what is possible for him within his limitations. He isn't content doing the same kind of roles all the time, and so he does experiment with different roles every now and then. However, unlike Himesh, Nawazuddin always takes into consideration the way he is at that moment and acts accordingly. And that is the reason he's so good at whatever he does.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

SPRING BREAKERS: The Way of the Superficial

 “Two little chickies left in the nest. 
   But those be the chickies that are the best.” 
Spring Breakers is, needless to say, a movie that deals with the lifestyle of superficial people: dumb bitches, wannabe gangsters, Britney Spears. However, its ambiguous nature has left many people perplexed as to whether this movie is an indictment or a glorification of the superficial. Is it ridiculing or embracing? Exploiting or accepting? Condemning or advocating? Some are calling it a nasty critique while others are deeming it to be an unapologetic celebration. However, I think that to side with either of these sides is to miss the point. I’d argue that this is a movie where the distinction between criticism and praise disappears. It erases the rigid boundary between these two incompatibles, just as it erases the boundary between high and low culture, pop and poetry, art and commerce, good and bad, beauty and ugliness, black and white, cinema and real life, material and spiritual, and dream and reality.

The youths in this movie are portrayed as being utterly shallow, vulgar, vapid, uninhibited, irresponsible, insensitive, depraved, and debauched. They steal a car, rob a restaurant, piss on the street, utter foul words, indulge in drugs and sex and violence, roam around in bikinis, wear DTF trousers and ski-masks, carry guns, and, by the end, execute a mass murder. They only think about instant self-gratification and don’t give a damn about other people. “Pretend like it’s a video game,” says one of the girls before robbing a restaurant with water pistols. Their whole philosophy of life is boiled down to partying wild all the time. Their idea of a spiritual place is Florida. Their dream is spring break forever.
Alien (James Franco) is their dream come true. He is the incarnation of all their beliefs. The avatar of Spring Break. Maybe you did all that prayin' and I’m the answer to your prayers. He is all style, no substance; all surface, no depth. Shallowness made flesh. He claims he’s a bad-ass, but we soon find out that he isn't really bad; he’s just shallow. Whatever bad things he does, whatever harm he causes to other people, whatever evil we sense in him comes from the fact of him being utterly shallow and not because of him being inherently evil. It’s the same with the girls. Despite all their wickedness, they are not necessarily evil; they are just shallow. That terrific scene where they let Alien deep throat the silencer, instead of blowing his head off with it and running away with all his money (which they could have easily done) shows that they aren't evil. However, because they are so shallow, there is every chance that they’d end up doing something utterly horrible at any moment. 

This is one of the things that the movie keeps reminding us about. Being superficial is not just about partying and having fun, but also about being susceptible to the dark side. A little sun can bring out your dark side. (Alien himself looks alluring and at the same time menacing, ridiculous but at the same time mysterious, formidable but at the same time vulnerable. He’s a rapper but also a hustler, a clown but also a killer, a poet but also a gangster, a guru but also a loser.) The scenes which seem ludicrous or innocuous at first are later shown from a different perspective, and we suddenly experience the gravity and the danger inherent in them. At first we see the restaurant robbing scene from outside, bereft of the noise and the close-ups, and it almost looks comical, but when we see the same scene later on from inside, we see how serious and dangerous it is. We also see Alien flaunting his shit, almost childishly, at first, but later that same moment turns into something menacing. However, I don't think Harmony Korine is doing all this to warn us of the dangers of being shallow. I don't think he's moralizing. On the contrary, I'd claim that he's telling us, "Look, being shallow is not just about parties and booties, it entails all these seedier and darker things as well. So, knowing that, are you up for it? Do you now have the balls to follow the way of the superficial? Do you have the guts to join this party?"

Faith (Selena Gomez), who is the least shallow and the most moral of the four, clearly doesn't. She tries to adopt the lifestyle of the superficial thinking that being a spring breaker is all about partying and having fun. But as soon as she senses a bit of weirdness and danger, as soon as Alien goads and tests her a bit, she freaks out and leaves. She returns home, where she can be safe and bored. Cotty (Rachel Korine), who gets shot in the arm by Archie's (Gucci Mane's) bodyguard, also leaves when she realizes that her life is at risk. Archie is pissed off at Alien for bringing spring breakers into his territory (This is a very sly move that Harmony Korine makes because he understands that Black culture is the original culture of superficiality and it is the White ones who are trying to takeover.  Alien himself is a white guy who has appropriated black culture, and now the girls are trying to do the same. At the beginning of the movie we see these girls sitting in a class where the professor is lecturing on Second Reconstruction, and by the end we see them exterminating all the Black people.) It is Brit (Ashley Benson) and Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), the two hardcore ones, who stay and are able to truly follow the way of the superficial. We wait for them to learn their lesson, but that never happens. It is not a morality tale! The movie portrays them as being utterly superficial, but shows that that is exactly what makes them great. 

The movie itself wallows in superficiality: it is hyper-stylized with an overdose of neon colors, dubstep, floating camera, and non-linear editing. The plot and the characters have no depth. The dialogues are utterly trivial, and yet they are fun to quote on repeat because they sound cool.  They are quotable just for the sheer joy of their utterance, and not their meaning. Alien himself relishes in uttering them: “spraaang braaake” “lu-r-r-r-r-r-r-kin’” “y’all” “Gaaangsta". When he flaunts his shit, it is utterly ridiculous, and yet one can’t help loving his childish exuberance. The “Everytime” scene, I think, perfectly encapsulates the whole movie: It is ridiculous, absurd, funny, campy, strange, extreme, and yet it is also captivating and beautiful. We see their shallow emotions on full display; however, it isn’t ridiculing them, nor is it making fun of Britney Spears. It is just showing them for what they are. And what we see in them is the beauty of the shallow.
It is in the climax (which, apparently, most people seem to hate) that everything comes together. It is where the movie reaches the height of ludicrousness, foolishness, recklessness, and darkness as well. Alien, Brit and Candy take on Archie and his gang. But, hilariously enough, Alien, who has been claiming to be a gangster all the while and whom we expect to be the formidable one among the three, is the one who dies without killing a single soul. Everything is left to Brit and Candy. And these two college kids end up exterminating Archie and his whole battalion of black gangsters with ease and sheer confidence. The movie becomes pure dayglo:  they glow when things become black. When they reach the apogee of shallowness is also exactly when they become the most powerful. What’s ugly about them is also what’s beautiful about them. Where they've completely lost it is also where they find themselves. It is, indeed, their spiritual place! No wonder the last shot of the movie is literally upside down. Spraang braaake forever, bitches!