Soul Man

August 26, 2008

1982 was a great year for movies, really one of the best.  It’s certainly up there with 1939 and 1994. Tootsie, An Officer and a Gentleman, ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, My Favorite Year, Sophie’s Choice–all of these great 1982 movies, any one of them would have been a decent choice for Best Picture.  But this was the year of the great man and the great performance: Mahatma Gandhi and Sir Ben Kingsley.  This is the first time I’ve seen this movie, and even though I’ve seen plenty of films with Sir Ben, Kingsley’s performance here is astonishing.  He really is Gandhi. And this is, and I’m surprising myself because I usually don’t like epics,  a really good movie.  I really wish that we could all practice non-violence.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Sigh.

Director Richard Attenborough really makes good use of the 3 hours and 20 minutes–that is, it doesn’t seem that long.  You also have to remember this if before all that computer generated wizardry they use these days for special effects.  Those extras are real people.  And there are a lot of extras. A lot.
It sounds funny because 1982 doesn’t seem that long ago to me but, they sure don’t make em like they used to. The massacre scene right before the intermission? Unbelievably good film making.  Attenbourgh deserved his directing Oscar.

One of my recent favorite things while watching these Best Pictures is trying to find a connection between the films.  For example Christopher Walken appears in Annie Hall (1977) and then The Deer Hunter (1978).  I think I discussed the french toast scenes from Kramer Vs Kramer (1979) & Ordinary People (1980) before.  Now with Chariots of Fire (1981) and Gandhi (1982) we have the appearances of Ian Charleson, and he plays religious characters in both films and Sir John Gielgud. –incidentally Gielgud won his Oscar the previous year–for Arthur. Actually Gandhi is pretty much a who’s who of British acting.  Along with Messrs and Sirs Kingsley, Gielgud and Charleson you will also find Trevor Howard, Edward Fox, Ian Bannen, Nigel Hawthorne, Richard Griffiths, John Mills and….as a bonus….One of my old favorite things is spotting actors before they became famous.  Watch the following YouTube clip (please do this, it’s my first one I’ve ever uploaded and it took me forever to figure out how to do it) and pay attention to the tall ruffian.  Who knew that one day that handsome lad would win 2 Oscars of his own, and make drinking milkshakes kind of creepy.

It was a difficult decision about what to make for dinner.  I half-seriously considered doing a fast a la Gandhi but three hours twenty minutes is a really long time for us to go without food and we really enjoy Indian food.  In fact I eschewed the cooking duties because we are fortunate enough to have a really superb Indian Food restaurant, Indian Palace, close by. So we did take out:  Chicken Samosas, Tandori Chicken, Kadai Lamb (my favorite) some spinach rich and some nan.  So I cheated a bit.  So what.  Sue me, put me in jail.  I’d do the same thing again. And again. And again.  Until you see it my way.

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