Tag: inspiring

Forrest Gump

Forrest played by Tom Hanks, is a thoroughly decent man with an IQ of 75, who manages between the 1950s and the 1980s to become involved in every major event in American history. And he survives them all with only honesty and niceness as his shields.

And yet this is not a heartwarming story about a mentally retarded man. That category is much too small and limiting for Forrest Gump. The movie is more of a meditation on our times, as seen through the eyes of a man who lacks cynicism and takes things for exactly what they are. Watch him carefully and you will understand why some people are criticized for being “too clever by half.” Forrest is clever by just exactly enough.

Tom Hanks may be the only actor who could have played the role.

I can’t think of anyone else as Gump, after seeing how Hanks makes him into a person so dignified, so straight-ahead. The performance is a breathtaking balancing act between comedy and sadness, in a story rich in big laughs and quiet truths.

Forrest is born to an Alabama boardinghouse owner (Sally Field) who tries to correct his posture by making him wear braces, but who never criticizes his mind. When Forrest is called “stupid,” his mother tells him, “Stupid is as stupid does,” and Forrest turns out to be incapable of doing anything less than profound. Also, when the braces finally fall from his legs, it turns out he can run like the wind.

That’s how he gets a college football scholarship, in a life story that eventually becomes a running gag about his good luck. Gump the football hero becomes Gump the Medal of Honor winner in Vietnam, and then Gump the Ping-Pong champion, Gump the shrimp boat captain, Gump the millionaire stockholder (he gets shares in a new “fruit company” named Apple Computer), and Gump the man who runs across America and then retraces his steps.

It could be argued that with his IQ of 75 Forrest does not quite understand everything that happens to him. Not so. He understands everything he needs to know, and the rest, the movie suggests, is just surplus. He even understands everything that’s important about love, although Jenny, the girl he falls in love with in grade school and never falls out of love with, tells him, “Forrest, you don’t know what love is.” She is a stripper by that time.

The movie is ingenious in taking Forrest on his tour of recent American history. The director, Robert Zemeckis, is experienced with the magic that special effects can do ,he uses computerized visual effects to place Gump in historic situations with actual people.

Forrest stands next to the schoolhouse door with George Wallace, he teaches Elvis how to swivel his hips, he visits the White House three times, he’s on the Dick Cavett show with John Lennon, and in a sequence that will have you rubbing your eyes with its realism, he addresses a Vietnam-era peace rally on the Mall in Washington. Special effects are also used in creating the character of Forrest’s Vietnam friend Lt. Dan (Gary Sinise), a Ron Kovic type who quite convincingly loses his legs.

Using carefully selected TV clips and dubbed voices, Zemeckis is able to create some hilarious moments, as when LBJ examines the wound in what Forrest describes as “my butt-ox.” And the biggest laugh in the movie comes after Nixon inquires where Forrest is staying in Washington, and then recommends the Watergate. (That’s not the laugh, just the setup.) As Forrest’s life becomes a guided tour of straight-arrow America, Jenny (played by Robin Wright) goes on a parallel tour of the counterculture. She goes to California, of course, and drops out, tunes in, and turns on. She’s into psychedelics and flower power, antiwar rallies and love-ins, drugs and needles. Eventually it becomes clear that between them Forrest and Jenny have covered all of the landmarks of our recent cultural history, and the accommodation they arrive at in the end is like a dream of reconciliation for our society.

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127 Hours

The film is based on the real-life adventure of Aron Ralston, as documented in the book Between A Rock And A Hard Place. The extreme biker and climber met with a freak accident in 2003 when his hand got trapped under a boulder during a climbing expedition in Utah. The mountaineer spent five torturous  days all by himself in this life-threatening situation before he could extricate himself and reach out for help.

Danny Boyle has evolved a film narrative that is individualistic, eclectic and hard to replicate. Like the other indie folks, Danny too takes up an ordinary story to re-tell it in an extraordinary fashion. So, if Slumdog Millionaire re-invents the Mumbai metaphor like never before, then 127 Hours transforms the adventure/disaster story into a hard-hitting steroid shot.

Technically, 127 Hours is a one-man, one-line story. Adventurist Aron Ralston gets trapped under a bolder in uninhabited canyon country and remains stuck for five days with a video camera, a bit of rope, a cheap knife and a fast depleting water flask. But the genius of Boyle transforms this simple, one-dimensional human survival story into a nerve-wracking drama that never lets you leave the edge of the chair from the very first shot. So what if the film opens with Aron having harmless fun, diving and swimming with two pretty young strangers in the deserted landscape. You know there’s danger lurking behind the next boulder. The major part of the film transpires in a static situation: Ralston stuck in a straight jacket with a bolder that refuses to move even an inch. But the experience is completely dynamic. There, in those expedient circumstances, our hero reminisces about his past, introspects on his relationships, fantasies about love, imagines what he would have done at the Scooby-Do do that he was invited for, plans out his future and even holds a radio talk that is essentially a self-flagellation session. But more than all this, he utters the most important lesson he’s learnt. Never buy a Chinese knife, even if it comes cheap, with a flashlight included. The knife’s no good, neither at chipping the boulder nor at cutting bone! Hilarious.

The film is a high-spirited salute to the indomitable human spirit and a grand testament to courage and true grit. Chilling, thrilling and horrifying too, 127 Hours is enthralling cinema.

Pursuit of Happyness

Pursuit of Happyness

Will Smith shines in The Pursuit of Happyness ,a rags-to-riches tale about love, family, and pursuing the American Dream.

Smith portrays Christopher Gardner, a salesman struggling to make ends meet for his wife and son. As the family’s financial problems mount, his wife caves under the pressure and abandons him and their son.

Gardner’s luck goes from bad to worse as he and his son are evicted from their home and must survive on the streets of San Francisco. The father and son are forced to move from place to place seeking shelter wherever they can find it, even spending one night in a subway bathroom.

Things start looking up for Gardner when he applies for an internship with a stock brokerage firm. Though the internship is unpaid, one of the 20 interns will be chosen to stay with the company full-time. The ambitious salesman battles insurmountable odds to make himself stand out from his competitors in the hopes of landing the position.

Smith and his real-life son Jaden bring an emotional depth to the characters they play.

He tackled the role with a determined precision . Though most scenes in the film have a very solemn feel, Smith’s cautious optimism and ambitious nature make us want to root for him to succeed. In a role that could have easily been played syrupy-sweet, Smith instead chooses to let his raw emotions shine through adding a layer of realism.

His son, Jaden, proves to be a natural as well. Portraying a child whose life and economic background is so completely opposite from his own doesn’t seem to be a challenge for the young actor. He seems to have a true understanding of the character’s emotional state and expresses it with ease.

While the story is a moving tale about a father’s love for his son and working hard to achieve dreams, it is more than that. Pursuit of Happyness is also a emotional portrayal of the problem of homelessness in our society. Perhaps what makes the film so powerful is that it is based on a true story. The problems that Gardner faces are problems faced by many in our society every day.

It is a touching fictional portrayal of a problem that is all too real. This is not a film that you will quickly forget.