Sunday, March 25, 2007

Yesterday, Jeannie, Maria and I walked down to the Art Institute of Chicago for the Cezanne to Picasso exhibition. I really, really liked it. The collection was from a famed French art dealer named Ambrose Vollard, a "patron of the avant-garde" and he had works of art of Cezanne and Picasso, of course, as well as Matisse, Gauguin, and Degas. I'm happy to say that I can add one more famous painting I've seen in person to my (rather sparse) list, The Old Guitarist by Picasso. I love art and my biggest college regret is that I never took an Art Appreciation class. I am a firm believer that there is no one way to appreciate a work of art but I do wish I had some basis on which to assess its artistic merit. Especially around Maria, who has some training as an artist, I feel extremely dimwitted and just slow. I think I focus too much on the subject of the painting; I always wonder what they are looking at, or where are they going, or why did the artist choose to give them such shifty eyes, rather than wonder about the art itself; like how can Cezanne paint the eyes with a few quick brush strokes and they can still convey such strong emotion.

After that Jeannie and I saw The Namesake. This movie just opened in Chicago this weekend, and I was very surprised and happy to walk into the theater for the afternoon matinee and see that it was PACKED, and not just with other Indian-Americans. I hated the book with a passion but heard such good things about the movie that I was curious to see how Mira Nair would adapt it. I thought it was MUCH better done than the book. If it's any indication to how moving the film was, when I left the theater, I had 2 immediate urges: 1) To call my parents and tell them how much I loved them and 2) To go find a bathroom and fix my makeup from where it ran all over my face.

I had issues with the book in its portrayal of the immigrant experience. Many of the scenes in the book are from the perspective of Gogol (Kal Penn's character) and so in the book, for instance, in the scene where he stops by with his white girlfriend for a quick visit before joining her parents on the coast for vacation, Gogol's parents become sort of caricatures of super-traditional, unsophisticated, country-mouse Indians. While reading the book I cringed at the description of how Ashima put on a fancy sari and cooked for 2 days straight in preparation for the little visit. It just made her seem...desperate. Whereas the film did a much better job of making us comfortable with Ashima and Ashoke's perspective; the first 35 minutes of the film is entirely devoted to their lives, in India and when they move to the US and start to build their little family. I just felt the characters were much better fleshed out, especially Ashima.

Anyway, that's all! I also just spent an hour talking about the movie with a friend on the phone, so I'm a little emotionally burnt out now .

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