Sunday, October 30, 2005

Movie review: Born into brothels

I watched a documentary called “Born into brothels” yesterday. I hadn’t heard about the movie before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was already a little spooked out by my last adventure of watching ‘what the bleep do we know?’ and so was very apprehensive about this documentary. Once bitten twice judgmental. So here I was with my friends thinking, ‘I can’t believe I got myself into this’. It was a Saturday night and I didn’t want to feel angry, useless and depressed all at once like I did after I watched ‘Salaam Bombay’. I reserve such heavy material movies for non-drinking and/or non-weekend days….that doesn’t really leave too many days in a year, but the point is I was going to get a shot of reality instead of kamikaze on a Saturday night. Clearly labeled as a documentary all hopes for sexcapades of Lolita were abolished. I felt like a puppy about to get its weekly bath.

To my greatest surprise, it wasn’t a movie focused on the sad state of affairs of the kids in brothels. The movie effortlessly connects you to these kids, their life, perspectives, hopes and goals. Filmed by a photographer and filmmaker Zana Brisky, this documentary is her effort and struggle to give these kids a chance at a better life.

Zana starts frequenting the brothels of Calcutta, India to photograph the women and their life there. Unintentionally she befriends the kids and finds herself on a new mission of teaching the kids photography. Zana gives eight kids point and shoot cameras and starts tutoring them on photography. The kids themselves photograph much of the documentary. What starts out as a fun project, shapes into an incredible inspiring saga.

One of the kids is so talented that he is chosen to go to Amsterdam for a 7-day workshop by the World Press Photo Foundation. This workshop invites 10 individuals every year from all over the world to get their views on photography. The kid does not really care about this opportunity; he is lost in another world as he finds out that his mother was burned alive and dies of burn injuries. These kids are faced with difficult decisions at such an early age. They are not choosing ice-cream flavors, they are choosing between family and a chance at a life out of the brothel at 8 years of age.

Sometimes when you hear them talk you feel like you are listening to a 40 year old person who is disillusioned by life. In other instances they are just regular kids playing pranks and laughing contagiously.

I loved everything about this documentary. The photography, the way the subject is handled, the portrayal of the kids and most of all the message of the movie. For once the case is made for them for what they are—talented, smart, hard-working, productive kids.

Rated A for Awe-inspiring and empowering. Don’t miss it.

Movie clips

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Movie Review of "What the bleep do we know?"

A torture weapon to tranquilize, annoy and destroy your brain cells.
Rated: C for Completely avoidable.

This movie came with high recommendation from many friends and finally I had the misfortune of watching this sleep inducing and possibly brain damaging pseudoscience documentary. The theme of the movie is, ‘you can change the world by the power of thought’. Some of you may say, ‘so what’s wrong with that? A change in attitude could indeed be life changing’. This movie says more than that and that’s where I start getting pissed off. The disgusting manipulation of science to make data fit their theories is where the rabbit hole to bull-shit begins.
This movie is made to initiate cult following for the Ramtha institute of “enlightenment”. Let me tell you a little bit more about this institute so that you are aware of where all these scientific “experts” and “facts” presented in the movie are coming from. Ramtha institute was started by J.Z Knight, who claims to communicate with a 35000-year-old spirit Ramtha (a warrior from Atlantis). All the other “experts” are affiliated with this institute or other universities, which conduct studies that don’t follow any scientific method.
Many people don’t know what to make of the movie because they may not know enough about quantum theories and neurobiology to make a fair judgment. That’s what the moviemakers count on, you giving them the benefit of doubt.
Think about it though. Can you really change the crystal structure of water by your thoughts? The study done by Masaru Emoto called ‘messages in water’ is anything but science. The crystal structures shown in the movie were a biased subset. The researcher knew what word the bottle was labeled with so it was easy for him to pick out crystals that matched the description. A beautiful crystal for love and an ugly one for hate. I’d like to see Mr. Emoto get those results without knowing what word the bottle was labeled with.
Aside from the crappy movie content, the whole attempt at making the documentary into a movie was a complete failure.
Here are a few reviews of the movie that I enjoyed reading:
BBC review:Less Stephen Hawkings, more Oprah Winfrey
Short funny review
Very detailed review on the factual inaccuracies of the movie