Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Films: Don't Know When; 2016

Of Husbands and Wives: Woody Allen

Funny as always. The professor student relationship rang so many bells. The professor knows he is wrong. Of course he knows he is wrong. Didn't like how that aerobics girl was treated as dumb. When he was fucking her he didn't feel she was a child or that she was stupid. What's wrong with women who are not Simone de Beauvoir. Why is it made to sound like 'settling for less'? Woody Allen's manipulative wife.

Ida:  PaweĊ‚ Pawlikowski


Watched again and still in love with it. The cinematography with its HUGE negative space, black and white and BRILLIANT compositions. The one tear flowing thing. Use - in after rape scene in diploma when she is crying. 1 tear drop. That's it. The way in which her aunt picks up her son's skeleton 'did i have a brother?' Ida asked in the beginning when she was shown photographs. SCRIPTING BRILLIANCE. Using objects in foreground. BRILLIANT shot taking in opening sequence especially. Ida has experienced all her aunt wanted her to experience. Ida looks at fellow nuns' breasts while they take bath after returning. Was thinking all this while that the director is female. Looks like it's a man with a woman's heart.

Ceylan's style is great. Need to copy. The frame of the ferris wheel. People going round and round excited and shrieking and characters entering.



The feather in the class sequence that Putul ma'am had shown. The socks and water dripping. Pather Panchali of Turkey. The two children in the forest. The boy runs back and upturns the turtle. The boy's dream of mother falling down - killing herself from window sill.
The creation of mood should be learnt from him. Does it so well. The boy running and coming through the window spotted by the boy who goes to drink water. The cat at the window.


Three Monkeys: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
2.5 time watching. Really good. How many people will realize that the boss and wife's relationship is rape. Husband and wife relationship is abuse. Son and mother relationship is abuse. A child's hand on a big person will always be nice on screen.

Mother and Son: Aleksandr Sokurov
Watched completely this time. Cinematography. Cinematography. Cinematography. It looks as of the bodies of mother and son cannot be separated. In most frames. 

Half Moon: Bahman Ghobadi 




What a film. Think i have watched it earlier in a film screening at Bankmen's Club. This time may be after 8 years. It was amazing. Will never forget the playback kind of sequence where all the women who were banned from singing lined up and drummed in unison and Mamo led the woman out from the place and led her to the bus. The singing and the voices throughout. The bus driver who looked as if he was there for comic relief but who became very important in the story. Hiding the woman singer. The replacement woman singer who kept appearing from the beginning in Mamo's visions/dreams. That's the image you remember from long ago. Her pulling the coffin. The old man inside the coffin. Screen going completely black. 

Pi: Darren Aronofsky



It was the director's debut, just got to know. Watched it without realizing i had watched it earlier. It's not bad but not great either. Mathematician trying to draw patterns out of stock market.

Cache: Michael Haneke



 Third time. Revisit your theory/theories

Chinatown: Roman Polanski




Didn't like it. So what happened to the woman who wanted to save her daughter from her rapist father? She dies and the father gets another daughter to rape. Her character has been portrayed 'loose' from the beginning. She herself sort of admits than she can only have short affairs with men. The detective who tries to bring out the scam is also ruined in the same way he is suggested to have been ruined in Chinatown and what's with the Chinese hatred. Was this before Americans made Russia/Muslims their enemies in films? It is a thriller but i can't stand so much violence against women. Jack Nicholson beating the woman up after sleeping with her. She says 'sister' 'daughter' 'sister' 'daughter' and he keeps on slapping her in the way all male abusers do. Terrifying.

Tangerine: Sean S. Baker





Transgender film shot on i phone. 'We don't serve prostitutes' sign. The reality which is in fact very harsh. Like me and she try to make a joke out of it. In the end how she goes to a car and they throw pee at her. Taking off the wig.

The Pianist: Roman Polanski




Don't know why i was not able to like it. remember seeing the German soldiers part on TV where he is asked to play and a long sequence follows. Need to watch the film Putul ma'am asked me to watch. The one with the feminist end. Liked the pianist's sister who wanted to hide money under the plant. Liked it when the pianist told her that he wished he knew her better. I wanted to tell the filmmaker that too. I wished he showed more of her. Women and cello - why? Bechelor Party comes to mind


 The Conformist: Bernardo Bertolucci





Didn't understand much. Have issues with the way he portrays women. His shot taking, frames, cinematography - brilliant.
[While writing this post i no longer have any memory of this film even after reading the plot once again]


Aparan: P Padmarajan

Caste: Innocent to Jayaram, that he is helping him because of the name at the end of his name (caste name: Pilla).
About Sobhana Parvathy cross questions Jayaram. The last thing she asks is caste. He responds, 'our caste'.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

To die will be an awfully big adventure: Peter Pan

Peter PanPeter Pan by J.M. Barrie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was given me by Kunju Thalona. Bought from an old bookstall, the first inscription read 'Congratulations! Sanskrit Scholar!' Kunju had struck that off and had given me the book saying 'Good that you got the best actor award or else I forbid you to grow up. -love. She had inscribed a skeleton sign also. Scary. This was in 2008 September. I have forgotten what the best actor award was for, what play it was. But it is now, in 2016 that i read the book which began with its famous line 'All children, except one, grow up.' I knew all about Peter Pan and even remembering a question in a classroom quiz in degree course about it but being the procrastinator i am...Well, it was a wonderful read. Just the kind of little nice thoughts, a little sad too, which i wanted before the onset of winter in Kolkata.
...and her sweet mocking mouth had one kiss on it that Wendy could never get, though there it was, perfectly conspicuous in the right hand corner.
I immediately thought of her, pappu and baby and me.
He got all of her, except the innermost box and the kiss. He never knew about the box, and in time he gave up trying for the kiss.

I had watched a film called 'Finding Neverland' which was on J.M Barry writing the book. It had moved me so. I remember crying a lot. I realized why the film was like that when i read the book. I have not read a children's book which has so much sadness in it, except may be for 'The Little Prince'. I was reminded of the film once again when during one of the author's interventions in the book he referred to Mrs. Darling thus
...Some like Peter best and some like Wendy best, but I like her best.
Stars are beautiful but they may not take an active part in anything, they must just look on for ever. It is a punishment on them for something they did so long ago that no star now knows what it was. So the older ones have become glassy-eyed and seldom speak (winking is the star language), but the little ones still wonder.

Fairies have to be one thing or the other, because being so small they unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time.

'To die will be an awfully big adventure.'

And the best concept was that of a kiss which, for Peter became a thimble due to his characteristic ignorance of human vocabulary and ideas. When the time for them to part came
She [Wendy] had to take his [Peter's] hand, as there was no indication that he would prefer a thimble.
So when Peter sees Mrs Darling in the end of the book he remarks
Her mouth is full of thimbles, but not so full as my mother's was.
Of course he knew nothing whatever about his mother; but he sometimes bragged about her.

It goes without saying that like most authors during the time J.M Barry was carelessly sexist in his writing.
It was a girl called Tinker Bell exquisitely gowned in a skeleton leaf, cut low and square, through which her figure could be seen to the best advantage. She was slightly inclined to embonpoint
Wendy, Tinker Bell and Tiger Lily all want peter's attention and love and are awfully jealous of each other.
Tink hated her [Wendy] with the fierce hatred of a very woman.
.
A little cinematic image in between. Of course the whole book is brilliant material for cinema.
...but as the little house disappeared in the forest, a brave though tiny jet of smoke issued from its chimney as if defying Hook.
That was Peter's cockiness. How nice. 

I did feel that for the sadness that the book carried, Tinker Bell would most definitely be made to die trying to save peter from Hook's poison. I even felt that that would have made a better script/story. The scene is quite a tear jerker without the death too.
Her wings would scarcely carry her now, but in reply she alighted on his shoulder and gave his chin a loving bite. She whispered in his ear 'You silly ass;' and then, tottering to her chamber, lay down on the bed.

And Wendy grown up? In a way only grown ups can be. The most intriguing part about the book is for me how everything that happens and are being described are jolly things, they are supposed to be happy children's things but they are always sad due to the writing.
She let her hands play in the hair of the tragic boy. She was not a little girl heartbroken about him; she was a grown woman smiling at it all, but they were wet smiles.
I think i have wet smiles now.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 16 October 2016

EXPOSING the FILM WORLD: I SHALL NOT DE-ESCALATE

More and more women are venturing out to making films. It is the best thing that can happen to the art form. From the time of its inception the representation of women and other marginalized sections has been a deplorable amount. I myself am part of this small group of women who have taken cinema up as our career. I am passionate about films and want to keep making films till i die in a road accident. However, we know and i would like to let you know too, that this is not easy if you are a woman. Making films, not dying in a road accident. Commercial to independent, film industry is misogynistic and there does not seem to be a respite from it in my life time at least. Which means that if you are a filmmaker and a woman both you and i will make all the films we want to make in this world where men dictate the rules and define cinema. It also means that both you and i might not even make some films, might not even get to make some films simply because we are women. 

I said all this because i am writing this post just to expose someone who is part of this misogynistic bunch which makes filmmaking difficult for us. It so happened that this man harassed me after i had made the decision to not let anyone go if they are found being sexist, not de-escalate sexism in any way. Earlier, i would have shrugged and said, 'just another asshole' and just carried on with my work. This time, however, i think it is my responsibility as a filmmaker or a film student to bring to light and put on record the kind of injustice that people like me who have zero tolerance to misogyny have to undergo to survive in this industry. Survive i will. Make films i will. Meanwhile i shall also narrate each and every incident in this workplace which is outright misogynistic. Simply harassment in workplace. Don't you think that a sexual harassment cell should be placed in each and every unit of shoot according to Vishakha guidelines? For filmmakers, shoot, an edit room or a studio, all of these are workplaces. Many women are harassed in any of these places every day. Where do they go for justice? Or is it that it is accepted that we sign up for sexual harassment as we sign up for this profession? 

Speaking about this man, i had no idea that he was a cinematographer till i came to SRFTI [Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute]where everyone sang praises of him. When i came to this film school, i had may be watched a fifty films or less of what i should have watched. I didn't know anybody. I had and have no godfathers or a history film running in my family or other such. I have fallen asleep watching Tarkovsky which is sacrilegious in a film school. I discovered cinema in SRFTI and that is what, despite the fact that i was harassed and cornered and abused mercilessly, makes me love SRFTI and Kolkata. So when i heard from my ex-student cinematographer that this man lived near his house and was slightly insane, i forgot all about it in my usual way. Very bad with names. Plus, i have been called mad by many just because i spoke the truth and unpleasant ones, so i did not think too much about his insanity remark.

I never thought that one day i would have to call him for a case of sexual harassment that was committed by one of the professors in SRFTI, against whom, i had complained. During the months that followed after the sexual harassment complaints, most of us complainants had turned part time detectives. There were no chat messages, no e-mails, no conversations that were not revisited in hope of obtaining evidence. I shall speak for myself here for now, but i really do feel all of us women need to bring out a book on how awesome we were in collecting evidence. 

There was a certain detail regarding another student's case that i wanted to find out. There was a girl who was giving false testimony and i wanted to know if it was a quid-pro-quo situation. To find this out, i called this man who happened to be the cinematographer of the concerned project. The whole thing was funny for me because after i made the first call he made me call him back four or five times saying he had not reached home. Every time he would give me a duration like 30 minutes after which i should call. I did all that. Information was what i sought and i just needed a one line answer. It was no big deal. Meanwhile in one of those calls in which he asked me to call after a certain time period he also asked me to tell my then cinematographer that 'the asshole has paid up'. I did that too. What was there in it to me. I just thought it was weird. 

So when he finally answered my call i told him who i was, the girl who complained against rape in SRFTI. That was who i was during those months and most of the people i talked to during that time were friends or acquaintances of the professor who raped me. I always made a point to make that clear when i spoke to anyone. I did with this man too. What followed after that was harassment. I am  transcribing relevant portions of the conversation that happened after that. Yes, i have the whole recording. 

I tell him 'i am the girl who got raped by Neeraj Sahay'
He cuts me short and tells me
Ranjan Palit [R(i)P]: 'Just tell me one thing' 
Me: Yeah
RP: He [Neeraj Sahay] is a very good friend of mine
Me: Yeah, okay, i am not calling regarding him anyway. 
He cuts me short
RP: Tell you what. I know him from the time when...before FTII
Me: Okay.
RP: Before he was a student here
Me: Okay
RP: I  know him very well. Very fond of him. Both 'some name' and i are very very fond of him.
Me: Okay. Yeah...so. I am not calling regarding him actually...
RP: I love that guy. I like him very much.
Me: Yeah, okay. But he did what he did to me. So i am not calling regarding him at all. [i tell him what i am calling about. I tell him the name of another professor who had been accused of sexual harassment. I'll call him SS]
RP: I know him [SS] very well. And i know the relation between Neeraj and him.
Me: Okay that i am not aware of.
RP: I know Neeraj and i know SS.
Me: Yeah, okay. So...
RP: And i don't put them on the same plate.
Me: Yeah. Okay. 
RP: They are very very different people. 
Me: Yeah, okay so i...
RP: With women they are very different people. 
Me: Haan. Okay. 
RP: I know SS damn well, i know Neeraj damn well. 
Me: Okay, yeah, so sir, what i was saying was that...

[i tell him details about my case against SS. He asks my name. I tell him my name. He asks me where i am from. I tell him where i am from. He says that he is very close to a lot of mallus like Mohanan...Venugopal and Bina and Malavika. He says that he is trying to make some tea and the call gets cut. The next call starts with me saying 'sorry it got cut' and him swearing 'this bloody wretched'...Never mind that i am talking to this person for the first time. I give a weak chuckle and go on to ask him the only thing i wanted to ask. He says that he doesn't know. I ask him if he would know anybody who would know. He says no. ['na re' to be precise] He also delves into some personal details of this girl which has no connection whatsoever with what i am asking him. After that i am about to hang up saying okay sir, okay. Okay, thank you. Now it starts for the second time 

RP: No no, but that's all you wanted to ask me about? 
Me: Yeah. That's all. 
RP: Tell me about. [Laughs]. Now i will ask you. Tell me about Neeraj
Me: Err...i don't have anything to say about him. I filed a sexual harassment complaint against him. 
RP: But you were in a relationship with him for a while, right? 
Me: No, i was not in a relationship with him. 
RP: Was anybody in a relationship with him? 
Me: I don't know. I have heard things that he was in a...relationship with a senior of mine, but i don't know about that.
RP: But she didn't complain? 
Me: She did not complain, no. 
RP: And you complained because he tried to rape you?
Me: He didn't try to rape me, he raped me. 
RP: When?
Me: More than a year ago
RP: But you know something, he has been in a very very bad physical condition for a long time. 
Me: Yeah, everybody knows that. All of us on campus knows that. Yeah. 
RP: So i find it...i am not saying i don't believe you...Don't worry, i am not trying to say you are a liar...
Me: No, i have heard all of that and i have got a lot of that also, that i am a liar, i am an ugly woman
RP: No no no, i am always on the side of a woman who says that something happened. I am always on that side. But the thing is in this case i know this guy very very well and i find it very weird. I won't say difficult to believe then i would be saying that you are a liar, i am not saying that i am just saying i am very very disturbed by the whole thing. See SS and all that, they don't disturb me. I know SS. He has been there done that, okay. Aaj ka baat nahi hai. SS pehle daaru peeke he would come on to women. I know SS...So SS, anything you say i will believe. But this guy [Neeraj Sahay], i know the guy...I am just saying i am very disturbed that's all. 
Me: I have nothing to say because it's not up to me...
RP: Did you complain immediately? 
Me: No, i complained after a year
RP: Why is that?
     : I am sorry for asking this question. 
Me: I think it is very very unfortunate that whenever somebody complains people ask why didn't you complain then? Because if you know the psychology of abuse, 
RP: I do
Me: It is very very very difficult for a person to first of all accept that that person is being abused. It took me 6 months to accept that i was being abused. And it took me further three months to realize i was being raped. 
RP: More than once? 
Me: More than once. Repeatedly. 
RP: But then it's not rape. 
Me: [laughs] Sir you can't tell me that because i am the person who got raped so i know that i got raped. Sex without consent is called rape and that happened
RP: How do you define
Me: And if sex has been coerced it is rape Coercion is no means to obtain consent. 
RP: But one sec, one sec
     : I am sorry i am being cruel to you 
Me: No, Neeraj Sahay could be your friend for even fifty years but i cannot take back what i said because what i said is what i happened. 
RP: I am always on the side of...
Me: In that case sir, i would also like you to know that when the whole of media, when the whole of the court the entire judicial system in this whole fucking country itself is asking the woman again and again 'why didn't you do this one year ago', 'were you in a relationship' [trying to interrupt] I am saying as a person who told me right now 
RP: Women are responsible for it...
Me: As a person who told me that you are on the side of the person who complains i think you should also take a stance on questioning the woman on whether or not it's rape is not really a thing to do to the woman. 
RP: Okay, i am sorry. 
Me: For you as a friend of Neeraj it might be very difficult to digest
RP: Yeah yeah
     : You know where i am coming from...
Me: Yeah, i understand that you are a friend of his and it is very very difficult for you, to tell you honestly, when i get married and i have a husband and the girl is saying that 'your husband did this to me', i will, will have to stand with the girl whatever happens. 
RP: I will tell you something now. Achcha, you can't quote anything i am saying because i will say you are lying. This is a private conversation between you and me. 
Me: Yeah
RP: You cannot quote me, i will say you are lying. 
Me: Okay. 
[Tells me his handle on facebook and swears at Bengalis. Says that he is actually a Punjabi. Repeats that it's a private conversation and if i quote him, he will say that i am lying. In that context i will tell you, he says. He says that his friend, also someone who happens to be aware of what happened here, told him what Neeraj Sahay had done.]
RP: It's difficult for someone to be objective. I am not saying that i will not believe you but i will look at you and i will think about it. [Repeats that he felt that there is 'something to it' when two of his friends said that they believed me, when it was 'seconded' by a third person.]
Me: That is really sad, actually.  
RP: Baba i don't know you
Me: I know that. You don't know the girl who was raped in Delhi also. That's what i am saying. 
RP: By whom? By whom? By whom? By Neeraj?
Me: No, i am talking about the Delhi rape case. I am saying that you don't know that girl either. [I laugh] It's kind of embarrassing for me to...
RP: Don't be embarrassed, i am a very amoral kind of guy. 
Me: No no no no no no...
RP: I don't come on to women, women come on to me. 
Me: I am trying to tell you that it is embarrassing me to tell you of what i think of women complaining about sexual harassment.
RP: If it was embarrassing i wouldn't have talked to you. But if you are talking to me i will also tell you what i feel because i am like that. 
Me: I said that it is embarrassing for me to tell you that, you know. the whole discourse of rape itself, i think, i am a very junior person, right? so when i talk to you about it, i feel a little embarrassed, i mean, who am i to tell you that this is not right and this is right. 
RP: I believe anything you say about SS. 
[Goes on to say how Neeraj had partied at his house. Says that all guys are assholes and he can pick these things up easily and he did not sense any such thing with Neeraj.] Says 
RP: 90% of men are assholes. I am not an asshole. I don't come on to women, women come on to me'. [I am mostly silent by this time]
In every academic institution, this kind of thing happens between so called teachers and students and chelas and whatever you...
[I think i disconnected after this line.]

Why i went back to this phone conversation after so many months is because of some bullying i faced from the same man online, a few days ago. He was talking to one of his friends on my wall, under a post of mine and i had asked him not to use my wall, instead use private messaging or something of the sort to carry on his personal conversations with anyone he pleases. The man did not like that. At the end of the exchange of words in which he spoke like a maniac about how none of us knew who we were speaking to, he posted the comment i am posting the screenshot of. I deleted that one because i had asked him repeatedly to stop using my wall and he just wasn't listening. Anyway it is amazing how this man has the audacity to parade his misogyny in this fashion all over the internet and not have anyone question him. People don't believe it, but trust me, i really don't like being the first person to have called a spade a spade. I don't know why this curse of repeatedly being that person has fallen upon me. Now here it is. The 'i will take you to court' threat from a 'film person'. 



I don't want explanations for this what he has written. Nevertheless i shall just point out what things mean for a woman in case she decides to complain against sexual harassment. If the person who abused you is friends with such practitioners of cinema, please be aware that this is what you are going to battle. It is not fun. It is not easy. It is exasperating. Yet, let's hope that calling out one person like this might help in making someone else watch his mouth when they speak about sexual harassment, rape and women. 

1. You little wretch: I am a giant, you are a worm. So shut up
2. Actually said good thing about you: Instead of being grateful, you dare question me!
3. It was you who called me at 11 o clock: You were dressed that way and was out at that hour
4. Knowing your history i thought you were going to trap me: You try to get older men like me laid and then say that we raped you. 
5. ...will tell you off you little pipsqueak: By talking like this to me you will lose any support if you had any.
6. I have a criminal lawyer on my side: I can call you all the names i want because i am superior to you and if you dare say anything to me i shall call my lawyer and take you to court. 

I will be happy to go to court with all of the conversation and more but not before i make this clear. I shall not be silent anymore about this kind of behaviour from anybody. We have ignored too many of these and people have actually started thinking that it's okay to talk to people like that. Well, it's not okay. 
Please also note how these people always throw names around. They think that if you mention some names that everyone in your profession knows, you will immediately be intimidated and silenced. It does not work with me, thankfully. But there might be people who might get scared just because the man who is harassing you says he is friends with people you like or admire or desire to work with. Forget it and fight. Nobody and nothing is going to stop you from what you want to do, especially when you are a fighter. If you can fight sexual harassment, misogyny or sexism, or fight for your rights as a human being with dignity, you are well ahead in your way to be where you want to be. This is the reason i know i am going to make films. Patriarchal uncles, aunts, brother sisters etc can really go to hell now.




 



 


Sunday, 9 October 2016

Adoor Gopalakrishnan Writes to Amaresh Chakraburtty, Director in Charge, SRFTI.

I didn't think it was possible when i gave a ring to Adoor one day, in a desperate state of mind after students seemed uninterested and administration adamant regarding the watermark issue. Well, turned out to be possible and i have learnt yet another lesson, thanks to SRFTI. Things might seem impossible, but that just means you are underestimating yourself. I present this beautiful letter to the cinema loving people, to SRFTI who does not seem to be part of it anymore precisely due to its decorum including the watermark. When i was in the screening committee, one of the first things i did was to screen 35mm print of Elippathaayam [The Rat Trap], which is still one of my favourite films. That was a long time ago, when things weren't this complicated in SRFTI. But it remains a milestone in our fight, this letter. Read. 



Sri. Amaresh Chakraburtty,
Director,
SRFTI, Kolkata.

Dear Sri. Amaresh Chakrobarthy,
I am told the student community at the SRFTI is agitated over your new rule that every frame of the student films should bear the watermark of the SRFTI. As a filmmaker I feel that it will mar the look and feel of their work. Understandably, it is an offensive measure you are imposing and the students who are making their first films very rightly feel that it is an encroachment on their creative work.

I do not understand why you should insist on this. There may have been a stray case of an abhorrent ex-student tampering with the producer- title and inserting one’s own name in its place. One dishonest person should not be seen as a true representative of the whole student community.
Have faith in them and they will not let you down.
At the PSBT which I am chairing, we have produced more than 300 debut films and not even one person has let us down either by falsifying credits or by turning recalcitrant. We have vested faith in our youth and they have been reciprocating nicely and honestly.

Please trust your students, they will not frustrate you. Once you start treating them with distrust they will find ways of circumventing your rules. It will not be a happy situation that you would be creating and eventually confronting.

Once the students have expressed their objection to it, I think they have every right to do so, you should have quietly reconsidered your policy.  It will not be read as defeat or surrender. Hope I am not sermonizing to someone who I am sure is aware of it all. We all learn from experience.
You can of course insist on a prominent title at the beginning and end of the film that it is produced by the SRFTI and you have every right to take penal action against those who violate it.
After a long time, to the great of us all who love cinema and respect the need for proper  formal training in filmmaking,  the SRFTI campus has seen peace and progress.  Let us preserve it dearly,
Best regards,

Adoor Gopalakrishnan                                                                     Trivandrum 6-10-2016 


The fight shall continue. 

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Two Film Festivals, SRFTI, 2016

Institute was venue for a Danish film festival and 2nd Edition of Film Festivals from Europe which i attended. Both the festivals were substandard in their selection of films. I watched most of the films and liked a few. Jotting down my opinion of the films i watched
Warning SPOILERS THROUGHOUT

A Second Chance: Direction: Susanne Bier, 2015, 105 mins


Liked it. About postpartum depression. Got shocked when the police officer said 'what are you hiding in there' to the victim of the abuser drug doer. He opens the cupboard and there is a baby-covered in what i thought was mud but was actually its own shit. The abusive relationship in which the girl is always defending the man is shown well. The best part of the film for me was that woman getting out of abuse (as shown in the supermarket scene)
Postpartum depression has been shown really well, according to the very little i know of it. The way the woman snaps when the guy asks 'do you regret it (having the baby) also how she snaps after the child is dead and his cop friend comes to see if everything is alright and the husband says, to cover up that Anna is not feeling well. She snaps saying nothing is wrong with me.
The stereotype of poor-druggist-abusive family being a shittyplace/ shitty mother is toppled. But it is also true what Gaurav said, it's good woman/mother Vs bad woman/mother
Given that this is a Danish commercial film which did really well in box office-made me think how different our own mainstream is and how such a topic will never be shown here.

That day, in Night Screening it was
Son of Saul


Will have to watch it completely another day, was too sleepy to sit through the whole film. [Not due to the film, it's never due to the film] That kind of cinematography is too disturbing for the eye. Mostly in OTS and shallow depth of field. Enough for us to know what is happening. Just enough. Can't understand anything more. The rest is sound. Whispers everywhere (in shallow depth of field) A child crying (most of the sounds are outside the frame-child crying as well)
Claustrophobic-you can never get out-feeling.
[The setting is a Nazi concentration camp and a man trying to give a proper funeral for a dead child]

Back to Danish film festival.
The Sunfish: Direction: Soren Balle, 2014, 100 mins, Drama
Again a commercial film. Man who resorts to illegal fishing because of many problems in the industry. The character of the woman is really nice. How the workplace is for her, etc. Sexual jealousy of the assistant on boat- Lars. How and what he thinks of women. The fish in the large aquarium and the couple seeing it together was really great, BIG things in nature propped up agains humans look really great in slow shots, preferably. The filming style was better than the film which i watched yesterday. [A second Chance].

Night Screening
Closed Curtain: Jafar Panahi


Second viewing. Really wanted to watch the whole film but was too sleepy and had to leave. The dog the writer the woman the curtains. Panahi in between.

Sex Drugs and Taxation: Direction: Christoffer Boe, 2013, 110 mins
Did not like the film. I, as a principle, do not like films in which erect penises are exhibited. I think one can do it in porn, but not in films even if they are showing sex. Why should the whole audience be told what the length and girth of some actor's sex organ is?
The way women were treated by that man and how it was not condemned but was celebrated. Reference to Hitler was suggested by Gaurav. I did not find any. I thought the film was crap and just a lot of sex. What was that scene of this man showing his erect penis to a gorilla and taming it. I mean, seriously.

The Idealist: Direction Christina Rosendahl, 2015, 144 mins, Thriller
Really good topic. How people in power lie to people of the country. About the anti nuclear weapons stance of Denmark and the lies. The news reporter who unearths the whole scandal. I have come to the conclusion that it is not necessary to show the family/personal life of fighters while showing their fight. The way he gets angry with the workers when they settled for a meager compensation amount. Reminded me of myself. How, in all cases, a relationship grows with the people. Information- i have also come to the conclusion that information is what is key in all fights. Access to information changes everything. The storytelling could have been done better. The workers had WAR trauma written on their faces and eyes. Things you undergo really reflect on your face and that is how people get to know you and your vulnerability. :(

In Film Festivals from Europe,
Dear Director Directed by Marcus Lindeen, Sweden, 14 min
Thought of the Malayalam short film called 'Dear Kim'
That was much better than this film. Anyway this is about a piano player woman writing to Ingmar Bergman after watching his film which she says changed her life. Her theory or Bergman's theory is that of twins in womb. One child being born without its twin. Some parts if rge dead twin remains in the survivor baby's body. Did not like the film.

Of Shadows and Wings [D'OMBRES ET D'AILES] Directed by Eleonora Marinoni and Elice Meng, Switzerland/France, 13 min, 2015

Animation film. Liked in parts. The idea is common. Protest against rule of military/state etc. People escaping it. The female bird, or the bird with different wings spreads her wings and her shadow is a tree. I liked that bit.

Tell Me What You Feel [DIMMI COSA SENTI] Directed by Paolo Strippoli, Italy, 15 min, 2015
About the suicide of a homosexual boy. Did not like the film. Told from the perspective of the driver of the coffin carrying vehicle and his son/helper. The old man does not understand why the teenager killed himself. It is talking about a very serious issue without saying anything about it. Even when the suicide of the boy is shown nothing is really said. Can't understand the point of such a film.

In the Silence [NEL SILENZIO] Directed by Lorenzo Ferrante, Matteo Ricca, Italy, 15 min, 2015.
A boy and his brother who is paraplegic due to an accident which is suggested in the film. Not clear. The healthy brother is not interested in taking care of the sick brother and looks like he holds great rancour against his brother for being sick. He takes the sick brother on a drive and shows him nice things they perhaps used to see together. Nothing does anything to the sick boy. He starts taking care of the sick brother after returning from that trip. Did not like the film. There really wasn't anything in the film.

About Heaven [FRAGMENTS DU PARADIS] Documentary- Directed by Stephane Goel, Switzerland, 85 min, 2015
Documentary film about death. Afterlife. Heaven.
Liked in parts. Too much intercutting. The story is told by intercutting between the father and son trekking to a spot which is called paradise by them probably because of the view. This trek is intercut with interviews of old people and their thoughts on death afterlife heaven etc. It is very interesting. The interviews. I don't see why these two narratives had to be told together because the trekking part is not compatible with the interview part even though, it is, in some ways about the same things. Something mores uited for interviews had to be shown, in my opinion. Also felt happy to listen to people who know what i know which is that there is no heaven and life after death and no god.

Master Class by Swiss Director Lionel Baier

First things first: Why is this class called 'master' class?
Some notes i took from the class.

He said that there are two kinds of actors, one who ask 'why' and the other who ask 'how'. He said that he doesn't like actors who ask 'why?'. Said he could lie about the character if required. Pretend to know all about the character. Non-actors try to 'play' (perform) but they have to 'be'.
He is very fascinated by death.
Documentary is less real than fiction. Everybody believes it is real because it is documentary. He likes to play with it. In fiction you are always trying to prove that it is real.
He is not nostalgic about film (celluloid)
Tribute to Psycho in his film.
He is scared of his privilege and he thinks it is good because it makes him responsible.
He keeps a pocket diary and he showed it too extracting it from his coat pocket. I liked it because i do the same.
He said that the title of his film meant the sin called 'vanity' and a kind of painting in which the skill is seen which is a way of saying that 'you cannot evade death'.

Vanity [LA VANITE] Directed by Lionel baier, Switzerland/France, 75 min, 2015
Liked the film. Wasn't extraordinary but was humorous and quite good in many aspects. Liked it that the director got the idea from a documentary that he had watched and that he used the footage from the same documentary in the film. It's about a man who is trying to die with the law permitting him to do so if he has bee diagnosed with a terminal illness. A woman helps him in this. More characters join and an interesting story develops in between all of them.

Ineffaceable [INEFFACABLE] Directed by Gregory Lecoq, Belgium, 23 min, 2015
About a graffiti artist young boy who escapes from mental asylum and does more graffiti, meets his ex-girlfriend and commits suicide. Shitty film.

Someone else's Shadow [L'OMBRE D'UN AUTRE] Directed by Leo Medard, Belgium, 28 min, 2015
A couple. the wife thinks it is not her husband, it's someone else and she is taken to a psychiatrist etc. In the end it turns out that he was pretending to be someone else so that he could get her to an institution saying she is mad. The wife kills the husband. Not great.

A Woman's Revenge [A VINGANCA DE UMA MULHER] Directed by Rita Azevedo Gomes, Portugal, 100 min, 2011
About a duchess becoming a sex worker to take revenge on her husband. Bullshit. Was supposed to be in the 'theatre' style. Why make a film if it was theatre that was required From lighting to set to dialogue everything was threatre and it meant nothing. Didn't attend the rest of the screenings due to this stupid film.

AFRONAUTS Directed by Frances Bodomo, USA, 14 min, 2014
Before the American expedition of moon, an African tribe decides to send one of them to the moon. Shot in black and white, it is a truly brilliant film. The acting is great and so is the story telling. When the girl goes to moon and says that 'my people are coming', i got goosebumps. A very modern tale set in another period of time. Really nice.
Write to the director of the film.

The Island is Delighted With You [La ISLA ESTA ENCANTADA CON USTEDES] Directed by Alexander Carver and Daniel Schmidt, USA/Switzerland/Australia 28 min, 2014
What a load of crap. Looked like porn. Bad visual effects. I don't know what's with everyone showing men with their penises as if it means something. What does one's sex organ mean anyway! There was not one thing which was good about the film.

KWAK U ANANSE Directed by Akosua Adoma Owusu, Ghana/Mexico/USA 26 min, 2013
Girl returning to native Ghana for her father's funeral. It was great watching the rituals of the place. The film itself wasn't that great but i do believe it was a good effort.

Remain Quiet [DIE RUHE BLEIBT] Directed by Stefan Kriekhaus, Germany, 15 min. 2013.
Really liked the film. The person who is sent to a far away place from the location with a walkie talkie to control people passing during take. There is nothing else in the film but whatever there is has been done really well. From the beginning a sense of doom builds up and reaches climax towards the end.

Station of the Cross [KREUZWEG] Directed by Dietrich Bruggemann, Germany, 107 min, 2014
The whole film got spoilt for me because the child spoke in the film.  When Maria is about to die i was screaming in my mind- please don't make the child speak and the director did exactly that. That is the biggest statement in the film validating the abuse that the church and family were doing to her. But the film is good. Static shots worked well because of the script and the acting, mainly. First i was not liking the static shots but it became interesting due to the story and acting. Don't think the intertitles were necessary. The whole 'journey of christ' thing. Write to the director of this film asking why he made the child speak. All characters are apt and aptly cast. Bernadette, mother, father, the kid, the siblings. The siblings refusing to eat when Maria was getting scolded by mother. The young mute boy crying when she was getting scolded. The hint that she leaves in the beginning about sacrificing the landscape. I thought hard what she had meant by that. Towards the end we get to know what she had meant.

Even though it was a poor collection of films in both the festivals i am happy about the class and a couple of films i watched.















An Unkindness Of Ravens: Ruth Rendell

An Unkindness Of Ravens: by Ruth Rendell

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


First Ruth Rendell read for personal reasons. Did not like the book nor the detective. Even though i picked it up because i had been told that it was about a staunch feminist group functioning underground, the book turned out to be of nothing of the sort. There was no feminism at all. On the contrary i found it very misogynistic and patriarchal in its story, approach and even language.


The man who in the beginning of the book is reported missing had a reputation. This we get to know from the conversation inspector Wexford has with his wife, Dora. 



'I'll tell you something I was scared to tell you at the time. I thought you might do something violent.'

'Sure, he said. 'I've always been so wild and free with my fists. What are you on about?'

'He made a pass at Sylvia.'

She said it defiantly. Standing there in the long red dress holding the sherry glass, her eyes suddenly wide and wary, she looked astonishingly young.

'So?' His elder daughter was thirty, married twelve years, and the mother of two tall sons. 'She's an attractive woman. I daresay men do make passes at her and no doubt she can take care of herself.'

Dora gave him a sidelong look. 'I said I was scared to tell you. She was fifteen at the time.'

Firstly, i noticed the way the author describes women by making elaborate comments about their clothes and most of the time, age, appearance and bodies. Women who have become agents of patriarchy have a major role in establishing norms and they inevitably turn out to be patriarchal. Ruth Rendall, throughout the book speaks the language of patriarchy. Look at the way the inspector or is it the author? who makes a mental note of how young Dora looked. And the man's explanation to the sexual harassment that his daughter faced? It is that she is an attractive woman! I don't know how many times feminists will have to yell on rooftops that sexual harassment is not about looks or beauty. It is about power and violence and gender. This was only the beginning of things which were wrong with the book. 


Another portion where a man was attacked by a woman in his car after he had given a lift to her, there is a reason given for them not having contacted the police.


It was his wife who had dissuaded him on the grounds that if the police were called the conclusion they would reach would be that Wheatley had first made some sort of assault on the girl.

That sounds like bullshit to me. So what is the author trying to say? Whenever a woman makes a complaint it will be assumed by default that the woman was attacked first and everything that was done was done in self defense? Then it would have been so so so easy for people like us who have had to fight sexual harassment tooth and nail all the time yelling on top of our voices that we are not lying because that was what we were mostly accused of. Are the police stupid or is the author?
 

Pitting women against women has been patriarchy's weapon for the longest time. We can see many instances of it in the book. The mysterious case of Jenny's pregnancy [which was not mysterious to me at all, from the look of things i knew what was 'wrong' with the baby] tells us that she, not Burden, the father was upset that she was going to have a girl. Burden is a little relieved when he gets to know that his wife has started taking a psychiatrist's help. He tells her


'Don't let him give you drugs.'

'It's a woman.'

She wanted to scream with laughter. The irony of it! She was a teacher and this other woman was a psychiatrist and Mike's daughter Pat was very nearly qualified as a dentist, yet here she was reacting like a no-account junior wife in a harem. Because the baby was a girl.

I am at a loss to decide what is meant by this that i quoted. no-account junior wife in a harem? Seriously? Throughout the book i never understood why this woman was upset with having a baby girl. Nor did her innocent husband [who seems to assume all psychiatrists are men in the earlier conversation]. So that is why the book says



In vain he had asked why this prejudice against girls, she who was a feminist, a supporter of the women's movement, who expressed a preference for her friends' small girls over their small sons, who got on better with her stepdaughter than her stepson, who professed to prefer teaching girls to boys.
She didn't know why, only that it was so. Her preganancy, so long desired, at first so ecstatically accepted, had driven her mad. The worst of it was that he was coming to hate the unborn child himself and to wish it had never been conceived.

Did that make any sense? It was helpful because i got to know that like many women and others the author had no clue what feminism is about. She further elaborates with this rant that Burden does in a bar soon after.


'It's not that she's anti-girls usually,' Burden said. 'For God's sake, she's a feminist. I mean, it's not some stupid I-must-have-an-heir thing or every-woman's-got-to-have-a-son-to-prove-herself. In fact I think she secretly thinks women are better than men - I mean cleverer and more versatile, all that. She says she doesn't understand it herself. She says she had no feelings about the child's sex one way or the other, but when they told her, when she knew, she was - well, dismayed. That was at first. It's got worst. It's not just dismay now, it's hatred.'...

'...She says that ever since the world began sons have been preferred over daughters and now it's become part of race memory, what she calls the collective unconscious.'

'What Jung called it.'

Her justification made no sense to me even though i like Jung's terminology and what it means. I hope that everyone else knows that stating that one's a feminist a lot of times does not make you a feminist. The author didn't seem to know it. You cannot be pissed just because you are going to have a girl baby and still call yourself a feminist. Collective unconscious or not. 


From time to time we get glimpses of the sexist nature of our inspector. My guess is that, these revelations were planted so that in the end people go 'he was right all the while with his sexism' because SPOILER ALERT the killer is a woman. 


'I was at work. Thursday's our late night. I didn't tell you, did I? I'm manageress of the fashion floor at Jickie's.'

He was surprised. Somehow he had taken it for granted she didn't work...

From the beginning the inspector has certain 'opinions' about this 'other' home of the dead man. [The dead man had two wives. One legal an another illegal, both with kids] From the way the woman dresses to the way she keeps her home, the inspector has to make a comment or a mental note which makes no sense whatsoever. For example, 



Wexford thought how easy it was to imagine Rodney Williams - or his idea of Rodney Williams - in his other home but next to impossible to imagine him here. Seated at that glass-topped dining table, for instance, with its bowl of pink and red roses or in one of those pink chintz armchairs. He had been a big coarse man and everything here ahd a daintiness like a pink shell or the inside of a rose.

I mean, seriously, the author is still stuck with pink = girl,dainty?

In another instance,



In this house Williams had had no desk, only a drawer in the gilt-handed white melamine chest of drawers. This had been Wendy's house, no doubt about it, the sanctum where Wendy held sway. Girlish, fragile, soft-voiced though she might be, she had made this place her own, feminine and exclusive - exclusive in a way of Rodney Williams. He had been there or sufferance, Wexford sensed, his presence depending on his good behaviour...So Wendy had made a home full of flowers and colours and silk cushions inw hich he was allotted small corners as if - unconsciously, he was sure it was unconsciously - she knew the day would come when it would be for herself and her daughter alone.

To this i ask, 'So?'
Wendy is sometimes punished for this way of dressing too. In the following portion we can see the inspector trying to make it clear that he was being nice to the woman by not torturing her. Wow. Such benevolence.
Wendy was crying. She said she was cold. It was true that the weather had turned very cold for the time of year but she should have been prepared for that, sacrificed vanity and brought a coat. He thought of all the places in the world and all the policemen in them where Wendy would have been allowed to shiver, where the temperature would have been lowered if possible, a little hypothermia encouraged. You couldn't call it torture, cooling someone into admissions... 

But don't think that his opinions are restricted to the 'younger' wife. The man has an opinion about even the laughter of the other wife, Joy. See here
 

'...She gave that bitter laugh of hers. If I'd had to live with that laugh it would have got horribly on my nerves.'

Was inspector Wexford living with that laugh? No. Then what the fuck was it to him! What is he trying to say, that it was perhaps justified by this woman's laugh that the dead husband married another woman and begat a child? Wow. This Wexford man gets on my nerves really. He is like the quintessential mallu male. Has to pass a comment on everything which does not concern him.

If you are a police officer and your job requires you to observe young women playing badminton, you might be questioned. Of course if you keep staring at girls that way you should be questioned. And may be that's why when there are women involved, women cops are always required? Now see what the conversation between these two cops observing young girls playing tennis/badminton [i forget] looks like.
 

'What would you think if you saw two middle-aged women watching young men playing squash?'

Burden looked sideways at him.

'Well, nothing, would I? I mean, I'd think they were their mothers or just women who liked watching sport.'

'Exactly. Doesn't that tell you something? Two things? One is that, whatever the women's movement says, there is a fundamental difference between men and women in their attitude to sex, and the other that this is an area in which women might claim - if it's occurred to them - to be superior to us.'

I'll tell you what else we can claim. That what you just said is horseshit. If middle aged men watching women are looked at suspiciously it is because middle aged men have, for a long time looked at girls like that and done things to them. And no, you cannot look at women like that without being questioned. That's what the women's movement that you so mock from time to time have made possible. You are just cranky because you lost your 'freedom' which was not freedom to begin with of looking at women whenever you please and for however long you pleased. Alright? By the way, there is no question of if something has occurred to us. All serious stuff occur to us.

Wendy later gives some 'motherly' advice to her daughter. ARRIA, the underground feminist group is constantly under scrutiny by these male detectives. What even teenagers can understand they can't apparently. 



'Why girls?' he said. 'Haldon Finch is co-ed. Don't any boys belong?'...

'Well, it's all women, isn't it? It's for women. They're - what d'you call it? - feminists, militant feminists.'
'Then I hope you'll keep clear of it, Veronica,' Wendy said very quickly and sharply for her. 'I hope you'll have nothing to do with it. If there's anything I really hate it's women's lib. Liberation! I'm liberated and look where it's got me. I just hope you'll do better than I have when the time comes and find a man who'll really support you and look after you, a nice good man who'll - who'll cherish you.' Her lips trembled with emotion. She laid down her sewing. 'I wasn't enough of a woman for Rodney,' she said as if the girl wasn't there. 'I wasn't enough of a girl. I got too hard and independent and - and mature, I know i did.' A heroic effort was made to keep the tears in, the break out of the voice, and a victory was won. 'You just remember that, Veronica, when your turn comes.'

Now can someone please tell me what Wendy's husband turning out to be a con man or dead has anything to do with women's liberation? Does Wendy realize when she wallows in self pity that that is exactly what women's liberation has helped women not do? Make them realize one's self esteem has got nothing to do with how old you are or how much of a 'woman' you are?

Author continues with her stupid descriptions of women as seen through the eyes of the male inspector. 



...Wendy Williams came down the spiral staircase, walking slowly, giving him a voyeur's look if he had wanted it of shapely legs in very fine pale tights all the way up to a glimpsed border of cream lace. He wasn't looking, but out of the corner of his eye he saw her hold her skirt down as if he had been.
...Wendy had a pretty cotton dress on, the kind that needs a lot of ironing, a wide black patent belt to show she still had an adolescent waist and red wedge-heeled shoes that pinched where they touched.

I am still trying to figure out what a 'voyeur's look' is and what the necessity of this paragraph was in the book.

His own wife too is described the same way. The author has something for waists.

He lay down beside her and the last thing he remembered before sleeping was laying his hand on her still-slender waist.
Our detective, however is kind of happy in a patronizing way about how
women were at last taking steps to defend themselves against the muggings and rapes which in the past few years had so disproportionately increased.

The usage 'at last' makes it worse. As though it is our fault that we waited till the rapes reached this proportion. And self defense itself indicates inequality, for me. 

 Meanwhile Burden's wife gives birth to a boy and now all is well with the family. And what does the author have to say about this? Nothing much, except some more shit on feminism.

Jenny says it's taught her a lot about herself. It's taught her she's not what you might call a natural feminist and now she has to approach feminism not from an emotional standpoint but from what is - well, right and just. We didn't know, either of us, what a lot of deep-rooted old-fashioned prejudices we had. Because I felt it too, you know, I also wanted a son though I never said...

So feminism changes on what you have. A boy child or a girl child. If they had had a girl child it would have all continued the same and the girl would have had to go through hell for not having born a guy? What a nasty way to 'realize' how to approach feminism.

There is an alarming statement in the rules of this militant feminist group and i am sure it has been put there to make people go 'what the fuck' and despise the whole group.

'...Rule 10: Women wishing to reproduce should select the potential father for his physique, health, height, etc., and ensure impregnation in a rape or near-rape construct.'
I couldn't make any sense of it. I am not sure if the author herself knew what she was writing when she was writing it. But i have a hunch because a little later these middle aged police people say:
'It's tempting,' he said to Burden, 'to think of a group of those ARRIA girls grabbing hold of poor old Williams like the Maenads with Orpheus and doing him in on the Lesbian shore.'
It's male fantasy and that's why it has been put there. And yet we are the ones who get accused of 'liking', 'inviting' 'enjoying' rape. Phew! 
 
Later ARRIA members are accused of 'inviting' trouble. One of the girls even says that she once deliberately created a situation in which men would attempt something. But the way the young women is questioned gives a lot of insight into what the inspector himself think of such crimes. In this one the girl was assumed to be a sex worker by a man whom she later attacked. 



'Not that there's anything wrong with being a prostitute. That's OK, that's fine if that's where youu're at. It's just the way men assume...'

'Only some men.'

'A lot[...]'

'Why did you ask him for a lift? To provoke exactly the sort of situation that arose?'

Yeah. That's what all women do. Provoke, attack and then feel good about it. Because to be harassed is so much fun, you know. The girl even has to justify herself later on due to the inspector's unabashed victim blaming.

'I didn't do that. I didn't do anything but go for a walk in the wood. I wasn't provocatively dressed.'...The only thing I did to provoke anyone was be there and be a woman.'

Now i'll come to the part i found the most disgusting. This dead man, Rodney Williams was known to have 'a thing' for young women. SPOILER ALERT

From the time the author told us that he had such an 'interest' i had started weaving a narrative in which one of his daughters had killed him because he made passes at them or worse [like how he had made passes at the inspector's fifteen year old]. My guess turned out to be true in between when one of the wives said that her daughter had been raped by her father. Only, it was said in the most horrendous possible way. The girl was hated by her mother because she saw her own daughter as someone who 'stole' her husband away. But we are talking about rape here. 


'She came and told me. Her own mother! His own wife! She said he'd come into her bedroom in the middle of the night. He said he was cold, he never seemed to get warm since we'd slept in twin beds. That's what he said to her. He said she could make him warm. Why didn't she scream out? Why didn't she run away? He got into the bed with her and did it to her. I'm not going to repeat the word she used, they all use it for that. It was while I was asleep. I was asleep and he was doing that with his own daughter.'

'...I said of course I was upset. No mother wants to her her daughter's like that, does she?

'Well, we know he was. But he'd never have done that without...'
'Encouragement?' he said flatly.
She nodded impatiently. 'Putting her arm round him, trying to get his attention, she wasn't ten. I said to her, you're not ten anymore. Sitting on his knee - what did you expect? Now the least you can do is keep quiet about it, I said, think of my feelings for a change.'

So it's her daughter Sara's fault that she was raped by her father. I thought the word she refuses to use is 'rape' but later i got to know it is 'fuck'. I am assuming 'like that' meant someone who slept with her father or elder people. Earlier in the book she had hinted something like that to the inspector when he had asked if he could go up to Sara's room to question her. And she had provoked her father by sitting on his knee and putting her arm round him. I think, by the same logic, even my cats can be said to have been provoked by me. Pathetic!
Now when it comes to the other family, which also has a female child Veronica whom Sara alerts of her father's behaviour there is is a sentence in the book which summarises what the author's take on rape is. 



Rodney would serve Veronica the same way as he had served Sara. An unfortunate verb in the circumstances, but perhaps not inept... 

Serve? Rape is the word you are looking for.
Sara, her daughter, throughout the novel is described in a rather peculiar way which struck me even before the novel told me that she is the killer. The girl aspires to be a doctor and that is something our inspector doesn't approve of.

A hard, neurortic little go-getter, he thought of her, without an atom of concern for her mother whom the police suspected of murdering her father. 

In the same vein,

Nor would she care when her mother was arrested for the murder. But perhaps it was natural for victims of incest not to care much about anything. He felt a wrench of pity for her.
Now look at this portion where the inspector is questioning her about the rape.

'Why didn't you tell your brother? Or did you? I have a feeling you and your brother are close.'
'Yes, we are. In spite of everything.' She didn't say in spite of what but he thought he knew. 'I couldn't tell him.' Like a different girl speaking, her face turned away, 'I was ashamed.'
And she hates her mother, so it was a pleasure to tell her?

See how the inspector puts words into her mouth and goes on with the 'why didn't you tell your brother/best friend/uncle/aunt rant. But soon you'' understand that all this treatment meted out to the young girl is justified because she is the murderer. A serial killer psychopath. That she has no feelings was already established earlier anyway. Ambitious girl as she is...This is the biggest crime that the book does. First say that there is a rape and then in the end say that the woman was lying. As if we don't have enough of such testimonies from patriarchy and victim blaming episodes. Phew. Thanks for this.


'Sara Williams doesn't have normal feelings of affection, need for love, loneliness. I think she would be labelled a psychopath. She wants attention and she wants to impress. Also she wants her own way. I imagine that what she got from her half-sister was principally admiration. Sara has an excellent brain. Intellectually, she's streets ahead of Veronica. She's a strong, powerful, amoral, unfeeling solipsist with an appalling temper.'
Crocker's eyebrows went up. 'You're talking about an eightern-year-old who was raped by her own father.'

But guess what? She wasn't, right? Being the attention seeking psychopath she is, she made that story up. That's the easiest way to get attention as far as women are concerned. Say that you were raped. When terrorist attacks happen i have never heard anyone say that they did it to get attention. Why? Oh yeah, rape is silly. Terrorism is not.

And what about the dead man, the father who did not rape his attention seeking psychopath daughter? 


'...You see, Rodney Williams never committed incest with his elder daughter. He never showed signs of committing incest with his younger daughter. And I very much doubt if he ever sexually assaulted anyone, even in the broadest meaning of that term.'
Clean chit. One girl who accused him of rape was lying anyway.
The doctor began outlining Freud's 'seduction theory' as expressed in the famous paper of 1896.


Seriously, still stuck with Freud? Move on, patriarchy.


Thirteen women patients of Freud claimed paternal seduction. Freud believed them, built on his evidence a theory, later abandoned it, realizing he had been too gullible. Instead, he concluded that little girls are prone to fantasize that their fathers have made love to them, from which developed his stress on childhood fantasy and ultimately his postulation of the Oedipus Complex.
'You're saying it was all fantasy on Sara's part?' Burden said. 'She's not exactly a little girl.'
'Nor were Freud's patients little girls by the time they came to him'.
'...I can tell you it never happened to Sara. She isn't the kind of girl to whom it happens. She isn't ignorant or obstuse or cowed or dependent. This seduction, or apparent seduction, followed a classic pattern laid down in the books. The girl doesn't struggle or fight or scream. She doesn't want to make a disturbance. At the first opportunity she tells her mother and mother reacts with rage, reproaches, accusations of the girl's provocative behaviour. Now Joy, as we might expect, fitted beautifully into the classic pattern. But Sara? If it had really happened wouldn't Sara, a leading member of ARRIA, a militant feminist, have fought and screamed? She was very handy with a knife, wasn't she? And she's the last person to care about making a disturbance in the household, either emotional or physical. As for telling her mother - Sara tell her mother? There's been no real communication between them for years. She despises her mother. If she'd told anyone it would have been her brother Kevin. No, there was no seduction, for if there had been she would have kept the experience secret to use against her father, not come running with it to Joy.

The amount of victim blaming for 'not being the kind of girl who gets raped', 'what happened to her fiery feminist voice', 'why didn't she fight?' and other such nonsense made me go back centuries in time. Are our whodunnits still stuck there? As though that was not enough, there is a remark by the father who did not rape the militant feminist daughter that justifies the villain quality of the ambitious girl. The detective thinks in his head,

So perhaps Rodney was right when he told Sara she was an unsuitable candidate for medical school. Who knows? Perhaps it wasn't simply meanness with him, he wasn't quite the bastard you make out. Perhaps he sensed in that daughter of his, without ever examining his conclusions, traits in her character that were abnormal, that were destructive, and it was to these he referred when he said she would never make a doctor.' 

The only relief in the book was this part which reminded me of my cat Pinchu who does the same thing. 


...Wexford's daughter Sylvia had a cat which uttered soundless mews, going through the mouth-stretching motion of mewing only. Veronica's 'hello' reminded him of that cat,...

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She Leaves Me. Again

For years I have struggled to explain to her how she hurts me. How I get hurt even when she has no clue that I am getting hurt. She ...