Sunday, September 13, 2009

Who's that knocking on my door

Hi I'm the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will. Bollywood is an interesting genre of film. It is arguably one of the most famous genres in film. It is as much a part of Indian culture as curry or Hinduism. Nowadays with the popularity of slumdog millionaire the Indian style of film has taken America by storm as well. Enter late 2008, a young and newly divorced film directorand writer named Nina Paley picks up a copy of the famous Indian epic Ramayana. Regarded as one of the greatest love and break up stories of all time, Nina Paley decided to take her creative mind and years at film school and art school, as well as her love for 20s music, especially by Annete Henshaw, and retell the story of Sita and Rama, as well as her own tragic love life.

I had the pleasure of watching Sita sings the blues whileon my plane trip to Hawaii. As I type this I am currently in Oahu, miles away from any computer, at a beach house in Kailua, jabbing furiously away on my half defunct, missing earphoned iPod touch. As you can tell by my somewhat time consuming typing on this thing, that I really wanted to publish this review. Along with my other review for "My Life in Ruins" this will probably (and hopefully) be my only time I type on this.

This award winning animated musical is on a league of it's own. It's one part mesmorizing, one part Beatles-esque trippy, and all the while charming. Sita sings the blues is only 80 odd minutes long. But from the very getgo you can either tell if you'll love it...or absolutly hate it. In the first ten minutes you are introduced to the three main art styles of the movie. It starts with the cartoony, blockish animation mainly reserved for the musical numbers. Shortly afterwards we are introduced to the second style, that of traditional Indian art and lore. This style is mainly reserved for moving the plot along, as well as the narration from young studiers of the Ramayana, who set the time, place, and emotions going into the story. They also give a bit of an Indian history lession as well as helping you, the viewer, make sense of the whole story. The third style is a more hand drawn style. All the artwork in the movie is done by the director herself which shows her creativity despite a small budget. The hand drawn styleconveys her story of heart break and how she got inspired to do the movie.

Now that I've explained the styles, you'll probably now understand why it's a bit much to get thrown at you, in the first ten minutes! It's kind of like swallowing "Across the Universe" the whole film in ten minutes. The styles flare all over the place. It's awesome to me buy could turn a lot of people off instantly. On our plane it was one of the least watched movies. People would rather play scrabble and bejewled for six hours than sit through that film. Me? I really had a lot of time to burn, I had just finished "My Life in Ruins" and decides to watch the only other movie on the digital player that I had never heard of.

So you know the styles, the fact its an award winning film, but what is this Ramayana I'm babbling about and who is Sita?

From what I've gathered on Wikipedia, it's the story of a king named Rama and his girl (wife, GF, I dunno) Sita. He is a mighty warrior and she is beautiful and absolutley devoted to Rama. but one day she is kidnapped by a greedy king and taken to his castle. With Sheeva's help Rama rescues Sita only to dump her a minute later. Eventually they get back together and she becomes pregnant, but than Rama dumps her again. When she has the kids and Rama finds out, he wants her to prove her love to him. So she says "if I was always faithful and never showed any devotion to any man besides Rama, may mother earth swallow her."

Sounds like an interesting story right? Well it is. The music is well done and extremly catchy, even if it's older. The art style is great and it's a really nice insight into the Indian mythos. And it's short!

Yes it's trippy and the music may not be for everyone but it's definetky a good movie if you are a fan of art, Indian culture, or jazzy 20s music.


(Update: good luck finding it on DVD. Because of copyright issues, airplanes, YouTube, or netflix are your only ways of seeing this movie)

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