Wednesday, November 30, 2011

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS: MOVIE REVIEW


Cast: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Michael Sheen, Kathy Bates
Director: Woody Allen
Runtime: 95 min.
Verdict: Metaphorically speaking, it is neither about midnight nor about Paris.
Genre: Comedy, Romance

        The principal failure one might attribute to Mr. Allen’s film is that he doesn’t manage to convey a cinematic city that is a product of time, or rather a period. His temporal space, which is Paris in the 1920s, is more a product of figures rather than the city itself, and in a way it probably reveals that the nostalgia shared by Gil (Mr. Wilson), his proxy here, is not that for a phenomenological space frozen in time (which in fact is timeless), but for a rather loosely sketched era which doesn’t seem to offer much other than a few set of names. There’s a lack of details, which in the case of an era of a city amounts to a lack of character. The thing is, a period is rarely defined by its people, I guess, and more and more of that definition is better served when it is strung around an order of objects. Here, 1920 is only defined as when Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway and Dali and Bunuel and Gertrude Stein and Picasso moved around each other, and sometimes about each other, within what feels like a sector/block.
        One ought to argue that Mr. Allen is doing it out of intention because, hey, how difficult is it really for a man with a camera to give a city a context and a history? I mean, I could pick my camera and take a picture of a few houses with “For Sale” boards, or a few office complexes with “To Let” boards and lend a context for Dublin (believe me, one finds such boards every few meters), or pick the same camera and run it around the hoardings in Bangalore and give a context to the sustained momentum to the real estate here. Which makes me realize that the space here, i.e. Paris in 1920, is merely a manifestation of one’s own fantasies, fantasies whose nature I wouldn’t want to judge, although when critics remark upon the film’s central conceit as some new concept or a product of charming imagination, I might have to shrug and lend a clichéd observation of my own – this is what cinema has been doing all its life a.k.a a metaphor for cinema. Case in point: another film Mr. Wilson starred in, which roughly travelled the same time period, missing it by a couple of decades, and introducing us to not merely Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but a rather young Charlie Chaplin. I mean, movies do it all the time (I almost want to use “duh”). So yeah, one could very well label Mr. Allen’s escapades here Gil’s midnight show, and that show has less to do with a city and has more to do with a generation.
        Here it would probably be beneficial to consider the extended opening montage. The images, deliberately shot without any depth, deliberately still, truly establish this Paris as a city not of details, a city that doesn’t seem to lend any influence to the people walking in the foreground, a city that seems to be a part of the sky and the clouds and the trees and content to be pasted to the background, a city that’s not standing the tides of time but that is dead and beautiful and just as kitschy as mountains and meadows. Picture-postcard stuff. Neither do the streets feel designed, nor are they a lively system of modernization; they merely exist. One might even go as far as to claim that Mr. Allen has tried his very best to create the feel of a two-dimensional city. The montage creates a city that exists out of context, out of history, that conveys nothing, whose only purpose is to create a fantasy. One would assume that nostalgia for a space and time is a direct variation of the information one possesses, because, hey, nostalgia needs to be about something, right. In Bruges is a simple example that conveys a place, or rather the feel of a place, and whenever it is I happen to be there, I would be searching the Bruges that exists within the frames of that film. So, if one were to assume that Mr. Allen’s midnight show is merely a reflection of one’s notions and not an actual space-fragment (and Gil’s are understandably built around writers and filmmakers and painters), then Mr. Allen exhibits a rather curious indifference, or rather a condescending distrust towards any form of information and any pursuit of intellect. His camera focuses on Gertrude Stein while she makes her opinion about Picasso’s new painting known to Gil, and we only get momentary reaction shots of the painting itself juxtaposed alongside Mr. Wilson’s very own “what the hell”, thereby rejecting it all as formal (meaningless?) “nonsense”, or at the very least bracketing it all as the interest of “art groupies”. David Edelstein mentions the absence of a Kubrick fussiness, which makes me feel that somewhere Mr. Allen is rejecting such “nonsense” from his filmmaking too. He is a lot less kind on Paul (Mr. Sheen), outright mocking him while he provides information, or context, using that same time-tested strategy of “focusing on the blabber”, which sort of aligns him with the shallow (and very much Hollywood) idea that everything, including art and intellect, ought to be calibrated as per the proletariat, and that the artistic or the scholarly form the oppressive establishment. Such a belief assumes that the intellectual are somehow detached, and fantasizes, much like Cinderella, that they would be the chosen ones. Other analogies – (a) fantasizing about an alien abduction, which rarely happens to astrophysicists or scientists (b) fantasizing about a visit from God himself, answering one’s “true prayers”, while the local priest, who is a false prophet anyway, is busy making a fool out of himself.
        The problem with Gil’s fantastical experience is that the Lost Generation could’ve existed anywhere and in anytime without being a product of their times, just as Adriana’s (Ms. Cotillard) folks from the Belle Époque didn’t necessarily have to live during a period of cheap labor or technological advancement. They’re free floating entities, and owing to scenes that for the most part contain partying, the space around them seems to have no historical or cultural significance. It is probably equivalent to, well, current vernacular would call it names-dropping, and I suspect that makes Mr. Allen every bit as guilty of “pseudo-intellectualism” as Paul, one of those stock characters he has always wanted to punch. I mean, I would understand Mr. Bertolucci feeling nostalgic about the 1968 student riots (a real historical era), or even Mr. Abrams for a fantastical world (Super 8). But Gil’s I find pretty meaningless. Not even Crocodile Dundee. Or at the very least, not worthy of the right to label Paul pedantic. I’m wondering now if I missed any details.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A SEPARATION (JODÁI-E NÁDER AZ SIMIN): MOVIE REVIEW


Cast: Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Sarina Farhadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Runtime: 123 min.
Language: Persian
Country: Iran
Verdict: A movie that puts our judgmental nature on the anvil.
Genre: Drama

        Razieh (Ms. Bayat), panic-stricken, is standing on one side of a road. She is pregnant, four months in, working as a housemaid, and the old-man of that house is suffering from Alzheimer’s. He stands on the other side, seemingly having the comprehension of a wooden plank, trying to cross the road as vehicles run left and right. She is new on the job, has a little daughter, and if something were to happen to him hell would probably break loose; humanity comes a little later. Such situations make me cringe, make me cover my face and open a little slit to check if everything’s alright, or in desperate situations exercise my rights as a viewer and even do a little fast forward. I did, only to find that Mr. Farhadi cuts through that moment, cuts through that tension, and rams straight into a happy game of foosball. “All’s well”, says that cut, and greatly relaxes the body. That ithttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif is lying, that it is hiding information only to reveal it later and further complicate the “reality”, is a narrative strategy that bothers me greatly. Numerous voices are describing A Separation as a “realistic” drama, which in some ways is true in that whatever happens on-screen is a documentation of that event, and that these events are unfolding in plain sight. Yet, the organization of these documents, i.e. their presentation, especially the “invisibility” of some of these cuts as they jump through time, may not exactly conform to that description. On the contrary, Mr. Farhadi seems to be willfully distorting the reality, and causing deliberate obtrusion in our understanding of this drama.
        Madeo caused me similar troubles a couple of years back, and I might be tempted to label such obtrusions reductive, or maybe even dishonest. But then, I need to, at least for my sake, understand the nature of this obtrusion and ascertain why when a film like Memento distorts the truth, I do not feel offended. Is it because of the integrity of the very structure, or a film’s strict adherence to rules it lays out upfront? Is it because of the aesthetic here, involving traditional notions of reality – a mobile camera, real settings, no background score – a sense of life as it is, although most frames, if not all, offer a shallow field of view? I don’t seem to have an answer at the moment, yet such a cut makes we question a film’s integrity, and seeking justification in the intended ends. A consideration of A Separation’s opening might provide some relief here. Nader (Mr. Moaadi) and Simin (Ms. Hatami), a married couple, are facing us in a two shot, and the very composition shouts “Brechtian!” Having been conditioned on numerous previous occasions, such a shot, asks of us to assume our moral responsibilities of a listener (Alfie), or a judge (Rashomon). Yet, the first words are spoken by the judge, and the words spoken are inferential/judgmental in nature, thereby rendering any authority we have null. We are merely an audience, and the film is constructing for us what I would call a false moral dilemma, these dilemmas seemingly judged from various perspectives exercising their authority as our surrogates. These judgmental figures (moral/ethical/religious) are introduced, or rather deposited in like sediments, one on top of the other. We judge Simin through the eyes of Nader and Termeh (Ms. Farhadi), as she leaves her house, her husband who has an invalid father, her daughter Termeh, to find a future in another country. She is the cause of a feminine rebellion within the harmony of this patriarchal system, and the film gradually traverses the road – from Simin through the teacher through Termeh through Razieh – to lend credence to this movement of questioning this system, if not outright rejecting it. The principal patriarch of the film, a judge looking over the central case of possible homicide, is, not impassionate, and yet while he sips his tea, he seems to be wise and mostly gentle, not susceptible to any moral corruption. He doesn’t seem to share either the condescension on the lower financially-challenged class, as might be suspected of the teacher, or the envy for the more privileged class, as is the case with Houjat (Mr. Hosseini) and some of our judiciary systems. The justice system as personified by the three judges, who feel efficient and personal, and a verdict feels subjective rather than processed through a set of inflexible rules, primitive and accessible, not a symbol of a distant and aloof establishment. There’re several such fatherly judgmental figures – through Nader, through the two judges – and the film doesn’t really undermine their credence as much as it examines their pragmatism and seemingly understands their fallibility.
        In many ways, the judge’s job seems to be what the film probably intends ouhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gift of us – to look over the various pieces of reality from the various perspectives and arrive at the truth, a truth that is unprejudiced, fair, reasonable and honorable. Srikanth does an estimation of the visual technique Mr. Farhadi uses here, employing glasses and separations of all kinds – tangible and intangible – and the fact that we’re watching these folks through our very own separation makes us all the more mindful, and in turn implicates our imperfect vantage point and our need to judge. Before judging we’re to question the veracity of the documentation itself and our instinct to take the situation in plain sight (on-screen) as the truth, keeping in mind that two of biggest lies happen out of the sight of the camera – one off-screen, and one that’s been cut. The distortion on Mr. Farhadi’s part then becomes quite reasonable in that regard, and probably even necessary, considering an outright distorted structure might draw attention to itself. As it is, the film is being hailed as a screenwriter’s triumph, to which I only hold Srikanth’s frame grabs as evidence to the superficiality of such claims.
        It is quite interesting the way Mr. Farhadi chains all of these events together, often using jarring jump cuts to sort of pull the events to around this house. Razieh and her daughter are waiting for the bus and the scene cuts to them running and climbing the stairs to the house. Nader looks at his father and goes for the door, and as the camera cuts to the other side we’re in a different day and time. Events smash into each other and pile the complications on. It is all continuous, caused by the principal object of the film, and in many ways its MacGuffin, the Alzheimer’s-afflicted grandfather, who is behind almost every event and every decision within the film, a sort of sacred monolith against which sins are committed and guilt confessed, and he seems to take everything in. Is he the conscience, a sacred relic to be protected, or is he the vestige of a gradually failing present, to be done away with? The film’s final moment has Nader, Simin and Termeh dressed in black, and obligation that is observed for 40 days after the death of a principal member of the family (although Mr. Farhadi says nothing to that effect but his film has made us wiser), and yet the separation goes ahead. Would the past always remain, you know, as a separation between the orthodox (conservative) and the rebellious (utilitarian)? Maybe it does, and Termeh is asked to choose between the two. I suspect even Mr. Farhadi cannot make up his mind.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: MOVIE REVIEW


Cast (voices of): Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig
Director: Steven Spielberg
Runtime: 107 min.
Verdict: An amusing yarn. The real story is that 3-D is a bother.
Genre: Animation, Fantasy, Adventure

        I guess I’ve to do an about turn and finally admit that 3-D is a mistake. I still am optimistic, and Mr. Spielberg’s experimentation only fills me with hope. Yet, this exercise of declaring a film as the next 3-D champion is getting a little tiring, especially when tracking shots filming the action feel as if the camera were “outside” this holographic frame. The action itself feels like a projection, or a reproduction of the action, and the figures in the foreground feel especially translucent and hollow. I guess you’ve all had enough of those complaints, but they are true. The colors render the picture slight. The unfortunate thing is the movie in my memory is feeble and silvery like those 2-D holograms our textbooks had, the only brightness being caused by a two-dimensional portrait of Tintin Mr. Spielberg winks at us with (the painter is a look-alike of Herge). He winks at us a lot actually, nodding almost every Indiana Jones film, and embedding within the material the relation between Herge’s Tintin and his own treasure-seeking adventurer. A critic once compared Raiders of the Lost Ark to Tintin, and Mr. Spielberg’s intention is to not merely to nod in approval but to re-present the lad as Indiana Jones for kids. Not surprisingly, The Adventures of Tintin is one big chase sequence, effective and efficient. From start to finish a big amusing ride. This, in some ways, is a problem. A set of scrolls, like the infamous crystal skull exchange hands, and even claws, and after you had an exchange too many you just stop caring. The characters, and as a result the frames are in constant motion, not even for a moment taking the time to soak in the atmosphere. Adventure films usually have a quite moment of reflection, a moment where the motion simply stops, a moment that provides contrast, a moment that acts as a delimiter between the set-up and the climax. It is an odd world here, made of real benches and buildings and desert, and yet the bulged noses do not feel like an oddity. A study of the nature of the pact we sign with the animated film and the way we start to assimilate these oddities as norm would be a hugely interesting exercise. The motion capture, though, way better than the ones rendered in The Polar Express and A Christmas Carol still leave a character eyes feel as if they were suffering from cataracts, or really drunk. One is not sure precisely where the focal point of Captain Haddock’s eyes really rest, while Tintin’s eyes seem to be looking far and beyond. I suspect it is this inability to reflect upon, an inability to savor the moment, that causes most of the animated fare to be constantly on the move, to overcompensate.
        Mr. Spielberg seems to be liberated by this foray into the animated medium, probably a trifle more than one would like him to be, the camera literally taking impossible flights of imagination, swirling and gliding and floating and swooping around the action, but never, not even for a moment, inside it. His intent seems to be to use the technology to create continuity through space and homogeneity through time, his on-the-run camera performing the function of the moving red line in the Indiana Jones films, the 2-D map becoming a 3-D globe here, a grand marriage of Herge’s ligne caire and the motion capture 3-D, the straightforward nature of the pencil lines drawing the plot being reflected in the continuous nature of the events. A climactic sword fight, fought by the clashing arms of two cranes, between the descendents of foes from a time gone by, is otherwise a bland little exercise, but when looked at through this prism of nostalgia achieves thematic substance. It is this “holographic” prism, steeped in the nostalgia of a different time and place, that Mr. Spielberg’s camera seems to be swooping and swirling about, these movements suggesting Mr. Spielberg might as well be the co-creator of Tintin. David Bordwell here analyzes the economy of Herge’s illustrations, and when one looks at Mr. Spielberg’s multi-planar action, where seemingly innocuous and amusing events in the foreground lead to an important lead later, it is tough not to imagine Mr. Spielberg working out his holographic “frames” as Herge’s panels, packing them with detail after detail. And while working that out, one feels, his brother from another mother liberates him from the compulsion to include the Nazis while picking up on storylines that were published around their time, and to play around with an antagonist who, more than anything else, is merely a madman driven by a need for vengeance. That makes him and his bumbling henchmen a little cute. And when Tintin and Captain Haddock do not dispose them off, but are considerate enough to pack them at the back of the plane, allowing them the opportunity to a sweet escape, it is, well, sweet. I guess Herge would’ve been relieved.

Monday, November 14, 2011

IMMORTALS: MOVIE REVIEW


Cast: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans, Stephen Dorff, John Hurt, Isabel Lucas
Director: Tarsem Singh Dhandwar
Runtime: 110 min.
Verdict: On the pleasure scale there’s been nothing like it for a long time.
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Action, Drama

        Immortals is overwhelming. It is the exact sort of movie I would want to buy and watch at home while thanking technology for the pause and rewind buttons. It is quite remarkable the way Mr. Singh flushes all attempts at motion to create exclusively static frames. Often he uses motion to complete his compositions, and we chuckle at this exhibition of flamboyance. Often there’s no aid, no lines to aid the perception of depth, and his frames almost recede into painting. The Priestess Phaedra (Ms. Pinto) wakes up from a nightmare, and since she’s the Oracle the nightmare ought to be promoted to a vision. I’m incredibly bad at this, but she is wearing a silken red garment of some sort. Behind her on the wall is a mural depicting the Titans locked inside the Tartarus. A figure from the left of the frame wakes up, and then one from the center, and then one from the right, and although I might be wrong with the order each of them feel like the petals of a flower. There’re dozens of overhead shots, considering that the Olympian Gods Zeus (Mr. Evans), Athena (Ms. Lucas) and others of their ilk are looking at the action from above, and not one of them is as awesome as that of a boat belonging to King Hyperion’s (Mr. Rourke) army is made out of the same shape as his jackal headgear, which, in a medium shot, for a moment or two against that backdrop of calm waters, feels like his headgear itself. You see, his stamp is everywhere, and these folks here are not without an appreciation for the manifold virtues of theatricality. Neither is Mr. Singh. Here’s that rare film that has been made more with the camera and less with the scissor, which, when it comes to a fantasy picture, is more often than not a good thing.
        Not that the kinetics is completely sucked out of Immortals. The Titans, for some curious reason rendered as a mummy version of the guys we’ve come to know over the years with charred bodies and savagery flowing through their veins, are swift. The Olympians are quick. Their battle is a clash of the immortals, and Mr. Singh, for all his fantastic escapades, seems to be building an oeuvre that examines the tensions between the real and magical. I even suspect, Mr. Singh might be a borderline plausible. His ultimate action sequence clearly draws the line of demarcation between the mortals and the immortals, and while the former are shot through natural and often preternatural (slow-mo) action sequences, the latter are battling entirely through supernatural imagery. While 300 merely played around with the speeds of the frame, Mr. Singh lays out multiple planes of action at different speeds leave me convinced to declare it a game-changer. A sequence inside a tunnel against Hyperion’s rampaging army reminds one of Oldboy. Mr. Singh uses exclusively classical composition, even during the battle sequences, and not even a single action shot is a result of an edit. In its grand-standing and violence it feels more like the marriage of those 60s Biblical features and our post-Gladiator sword-and-sandal world, which it saves from all those Saving Private Ryan influences that had got a bit out of hand.
        The genre had lost its belief in its mythology, intending to make the proceedings “grittier” and “realistic”, sort of like Mr. Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood film. The Gods were completely cast out of Troy. Here, the mortal kings and peasants do not believe in the existence of such beings as Gods, or any mythical creatures, and when Zeus and Aethra and Poseidon and the other Gods land on the earth, it is not merely here but within the genre where Mr. Singh has summoned their presence. What’s more, with The Cell and The Fall, and now Immortals, he seems to have completed a trilogy of sorts, where two clearly demarcated realities freely intermingle with each other, and affect the outcome of the other. One might not be stretching matters if he were to coin the term “The Dual-Reality Trilogy”.
        The fact of the matter is I feel completely inept at the moment. The silken robe flowing over Phaedra squatted thighs, inwards whilst her legs are gracefully arched is as simple and as erotic a set-up for a love-making scene as there can be. The pleasures here are that of pure cinema and I suspect if one hasn’t watched Immortals twice or devoured each one of its frames over a long sitting, one hasn’t watched it at all. More so in my case, where the first viewing of the film has been more or less spent masturbating to those pleasures. So I shall wait. For my second viewing. Consider this an instant reaction.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

SENNA: MOVIE REVIEW


Director: Asif Kapadia
Runtime: 91 min.
Verdict: Quite probably my favorite film of the year. For whatever that’s worth. Could be the greatest sports movie ever.
Genre: Documentary

        Perspective is pretty much a function of time and memory. Xuxa Meneghel kissed Ayrton Senna and wished him a happy new year for each one of ‘89, ‘90, ‘91, ‘92 and ‘93. Watching an incident unfold right before us, in the present, we’re scarcely aware, until we seek the aid of time and memory and realize the nature of the event that exists beyond the mere facts. This medium, more than any other form of art, because of its images, because of its motion, because of its ability to move back-and-forth through time, because of its ability to marry its images, because of its ability to make itself heard, is that aid. Oliver Stone’s Jfk is on the board of directors when it comes to my relationship with the movies. The opening particularly, with its mesh of images (real and doctored) and sound seemingly fired out of a bunch of machine-guns, is intense in the way it overwhelms you with what “appear” to be facts (simply because they seem to have been “captured”), and which to me represents cinema at the peak of its powers to persuade and manipulate. We see Senna against the backdrop of a Brazil that doesn’t seem to have many other reasons to smile. We see him lock horns with the establishment personified by Jean-Marie Balestre and Alain Prost, both seemingly the real-life variations of moustache-twirling villains. We see him referring to God and we feel we’ve amidst us a popular revolutionary. Mr. Kapadia’s Senna might even be mistaken, especially at that juncture, as some sort of a political statement against the governing body. And yet, when we see images of their last appearance on the podium, when we see Senna embracing Prost after the latter’s final race, when we feel the air of sadness around the San Marino GP, when we see the drivers and officials and commentators under that atmosphere after Ratzenberger’s death, when we hear the voice of Pierre Van Vliet use “everybody” to unite the F1 community, when we see Prost visibly shell-shocked after Senna’s final crash, when we see Damon Hill sitting by the track, when we see Prost and many others carry that coffin, it is the humanity that overwhelmed me. Alain Prost was just as much an integral part to the Senna story as his parents, as McLaren, as the sport, and as Brazil itself. I cried like a chil9d. More than propaganda it is this ability to unite the greatest treasure of the movies.
        To claim that Mr. Kapadia’s film is something of a live-action drama unfolding before our eyes is to describe the film in terms of a tense it rarely, if ever, exists in. That unfortunate day in May ’94 looms large right from the elegiac tone that announces the opening frame, and although the fact that my memory of those days is still fresh can undermine my claim, a close-up of Ayrton Senna as his mother speaks of God and danger is foreboding enough. Even in its form, as it cuts through events, as it cuts through moments, it is not an unfolding but more of a highlights package. That Mr. Kapadia layers it with voice-over and joins one event with the next automatically causes it to be a product of perspective. And it is the discovery of the nature of this perspective – political or humane – or rather the shift from one to other that informs the central drama within the film.
        And just as well three tracking shots chart this shift. It is probably impossible to overstate the significance these tracking shots assume in a film as this, especially when they are historical artifacts as opposed to ones created artificially. A tracking shot as any F1 race unfolds (present tense) is just a POV shot that gives us the excitement of a first-person account. Here, with my own knowledge of past and future, some of it aided by the preceding images, a million thoughts started going through my mind transforming them into some sort of an exercise in contemplation. And yet it doesn’t, in any way, dilute the purity of that act, which at the end of the day is to drive the car as fast as possible. The ’88 Monte Carlo GP announces the central political conflict and Senna’s metamorphosis from a smiling boy-wonder to one who takes on the establishment and becomes somewhat brutal himself. It announces a fighter and at the same place announces something that isn’t entirely pretty. The ’91 Brazilian GP helps him to discover himself, make him a man more at peace, a wiser person, and move over the conflict of the preceding years. Forgive and forget. During their final ever podium finish, Senna pulls Prost into the frame. That there is everything beautiful about sports.
        And that is when Senna introduces the film’s central fear thereby making the politics and corruption absolutely insignificant in comparison. That threat unites the F1 community. The San Marino GP is a monumental cinematic artifact, sure for its aesthetic but primarily because of its historical significance. Mr. Kapadia doesn’t lend it anything, no music, no voiceover. A million things went through my mind. As Senna’s car took one turn and then another and then another, and the gloom of the preceding two days are cast all over, and the inevitability of the facts awaited me, I was completely shattered. That tracking shot is a painful experience. I never saw it before, I do not know if the footage exists beyond what is shown within the film, and yet I deeply respect and applaud the compassion to shy away from sensationalizing the event, whether it is from the filmmaker or the source itself. It is a great shot followed by an even greater edit, switching from within the car to a remote viewpoint. This one-two of the tracking shot and edit lead our turmoil to witness an accident that shook the F1 community and probably saved many lives.
        Back in those times when I and my brother were kids, Ayrton Senna was just as much of a sporting hero for us as Diego Maradona was. We didn’t know anything about racing, and we never probably ever even watched any race at length except for to get excited when someone crashed. Those were the times when racing cars crashing used to serve as sensational footage for introducing sports shows. And yet we loved Senna. Just as we loved Sergei Bubka. Maybe it was because the way he looked, or maybe because he won so much. I cried when the Brazilian soccer team dedicated their World Cup to him, although that is when I realized Senna hailed from Brazil. Maybe it is the purity of these actions. Senna doesn’t leave us on a note of death or with any shattering sense of tragedy, like for instance Into the Wild. It leaves us with the knowledge of Senna’s greatest competitor from his karting days. It leaves with images of Senna having fun in the waters. It shows him jumping out and probably saving Erik Comas’ life. It shows him racing. It shows him living his life. And that leaves us at peace.