Monday, March 2, 2009

A Simpleton...and Lovin' It!

A couple of months ago, we tried a new restaurant in the city. Well, not so much new as new-to-us. My husband and I loved it. He loved what he ordered, and I loved the stuff on my plate. A couple of other people had highly rated the food there too. So, on my sister's birthday last week, I recommended that we all dine there. And we did. She didn't like the entrée I had so fondly recommended. Why? Because she is a cooking-show addict, which means that she can pretty much disect the ingredients of anything cooked, baked, boiled, just has to be edible. Her biopsy revealed to unwitted food-lovers such as myself, that the chicken was merely grilled in ordinary condiments; no special culinary skills backed it up, and there certainly were no signs of marination. The sauce was a simple mixture of this, that and those. Hence, not special. Bottom-line: the recipe has to be special for the restauranting experience to be fulfilling. Shucks! I didn't have the guts to say 'yummy' after that.

Are connoisseurs of this, that or those ever able to enjoy this, that and those? Just something that I've been thinking about.

Do film critics ever really enjoy a film, just for the heck of it? Doesn't it always become a matter of study for them? Is it well-directed? Is the cinematography technically correct? How can he realistically do that? Isn't her reaction too frothy for the story? Is it weird that most Oscar-winner movies aren't as entertaining as they are different? When will a movie like The Dark Knight get the accolades it deserves? Why can't such a movie ever be nominated for the Oscars?

Copyright (c) 2008 Saadia Malik
Image credits:


Id it is said...

Why does it have to get the Oscar stamp? Do I really care when it's just entertainment I'm looking for; something to help me unwind. It can be just a 'chic film' that one enjoys tremendously over and over again as it helps you out of your blues when nothing else does. "You've got Mail" is one of my all-time favorites as is "Mickey Blue Eyes","Notting Hill", and so many more.

Saadia said...

Yes, but my point was not to actually award these movies an Oscar. I decide whether I like a movie or not, regardless. The point was: do critics have the ability to enjoy their subject matter, despite its short-comings, despite its inadequacies?

But as a case in point, I do think that The Dark Knight (one example) deserved recognition on a strong platform like the Oscars.

Id it is said...

"Is it weird that most Oscar-winner movies aren't as entertaining as they are different?" ...
Each one of us has a different reason for going to the cinema hall. Let me take that further, different audiences have different expectations of the movie going experience.

The Dark Knight also had an undue advantage; it rode on the sympathy wave...

Anas Imtiaz said...

You can't help noticing (or complaining) if you know you can do something in a better way, or if you have found a fault. its a human nature. A computer guy will start laughing as soon as he sees you have Windows running..obviously not many ppl care about the stability issues as those guys.

BTW, which eating place is that??

Saadia said...

Oh God, I get some serious responses to some loud-thinking. My fault!

EVen though The Dark Knight was just an example off the top of my head, it might initially have attracted some movie-goers on accounts of sympathy, but I don't think its fair to say that it wouldn't have been as appreciated by the general audience otherwise. It most definitely would have.

Anas, good point. The place was 'Roasters' (in Lahore, from Karachi).

Id it is said...

Am I correct to read an implicit reprimand there... a response has to be genuine you'd agree; as for it being 'serious' that's a matter of opinion, hehe
No more 'serious' responses I guess.

Saadia said...

OH! Noooo nooo...I wrote that response in a hurry. No worries. Keep 'em coming!

Abdul Sami said...

i love my food... love it to bits.. but know how to appreciate it too... and simplicity is so important u know

as far as movies r concerned... its all up to how they take it... some people enjoy it but when they write the review they go all critical... for others they jus cnnot go out of that frame of mind... poor souls !

theBollywoodFan said...

It's a very valid question, and I think you're absolutely correct about enjoyment being somewhat diluted. For example, I cringe every time I hear Urdu qaafs and kaafs being treated wrong in a song (there are those who, in their infinite wisdom, say q for k, which bothers me a lot more than the inverse, which is okay in Hindi).

Definitely agree when it comes to film too. I think at the end of the day, if the film gives us time, while viewing, to reflect on all that's wrong with it, it could have been better. If it doesn't, it's scored, and deserves to be discussed while not disregarding the entertainment quotient. But I think the primary purpose of movies is to entertain, so that's where this viewpoint stems from.

I do wish critics could view a film from the standpoint of what it's intended to be. For example, the complaints of violence in Ghajini, which always promised to be an action film, were ridiculous. Maybe they weren't paying attention all along?

When it comes to food, about the only complaint I seem to have is that seekh kebab and tikka outside of Pakistan is not even close to that in Pakistan! *sigh*

@Abdul Sami: I agree on the frames of mind. Enjoying a film for what it is requires intellectual capacity as well!

Onkar said...

You are right. Sometimes, the mind has to give way to the heart. Why bother about technicalities ? Just relax and enjoy.

Rabeea Haq said... Amina Ji! I am so sick of Ami watching all these Shai and Gulzar Sb and Rahat programs :S..this cooking show frenzy has to end, bohat ho gaya ab.

And yes i so agree with you. Sometimes you just want to enjoy a simple meal without bothering to think beyond the taste and satisfaction of it. Same goes for movies. When i want to relax i'd always prefer a 'Pretty Woman' over 'No Country For Old Men'.

Food critics and movie critics and critics of any sort are sad..they forget how to enjoy the simple things life has to offer.

Roasters ki jai ho :P!

Kadri said...

Isn't the "picking apart things so that you forget to enjoy them" a sign of amateurs? Focusing on the details so hard that they forget to see the whole picture.

Being a cooking-show addict really doesn't say much about her ability to tell good food from bad food just as watching programs about how to sail doesn't make you a good sailor. It takes actual hands on practice to get there not just watching and learning.

I don't know about movies, I don't care about Oscars but food is my life and sometimes the simple things are the best things when it comes to food.

Here you can buy a pizza that costs US$1000 and it amazes me that people actually buy it. Why? Because the restaurant use very expensive and special ingredients to create that pizza and it still tastes like ... pizza. No more no less. People are simply paying all that money because they think that special ingredients has to be better not because they get something that tastes better.

I do pick my food apart, mainly out of curiosity, but I don't see simple food and ingredients as "lesser". I do taste the difference in how the food has been prepared but I don't see one way as better than the other. The only thing that truly upsets me is when the food has been handled in such a way that people that eat it is at risk of becoming ill. That's bad and I make a lot of noise about it.

How do we know said...

wow... i think we will rephrase the question as "Can one enjoy jlt, anything that one does professionally?" One thinks the answer is yes.

if we are not too hung up about professional excellence, we can easily enjoy anything we do professionally or as a hobby.

Photography is a hobby, and when i look at a good pic, i can usually say Oh, the composition is good, or the light sources etc. But i can also enjoy a picture for its own sake. In fact, usually i do.

PakAmeristanican said...

The quick answer to your question is, yes, you can "simply enjoy" a film, even if you are a film critic. However, the percentage of films that you can enjoy is almost certainly much smaller. I find this to be true of music ever since I have studied it. My enjoyment of the pieces I enjoy is much deeper, but there is now a lot of music to which I cannot bear to listen.

R. Ramesh said...

heyy.saaadia..gr8 to c u back..thanks 4 visiting my blog..reading yr piece reminded me-a new Madrasi hotel has opened in sharjah last friend ansar of multan wanted to have a taste of "Dosa"..along with the time v reached the hotel after duty it was midnight..v were lucky to grab the item v were looking for..nothing exciting..but the fact all 3 of us from diff parts of the globe tasting a Madrasi snack made us feel homely and good..

slmnhq said...

Great post and great follow-ups.

I judge my food based on the love it was prepared with (and I am rarely disappointed.)

Couldn't agree more about Dark Knight with you. It had some very deep maxims about good vs evil, etc... Heath Ledger really deserved the Oscar for his acting.

Looking forward to more posts!

Madiha W.Q. said...

I think even if you do watch a movie critically, you can still enjoy it if it's well-made. Some viewers are just more discerning than the others and notice lapses in writing or direction...but there are a lot of movies made every year that are thoroughly enjoyed by the discerning and un-discerning viewer all the same. Dark Knight was one of those movies.

Also I think the Oscar usually limits itself to certain genres. The romantic comedy for instance is usually not considered as oscar meat. But yet it's entirely possible to make a very intelligent and smart romantic comedy as it is to make a great movie in any genre...whether it's thriller, horror, animation or drama. Jaws, You've Got Mail, Dark Knight and There Will be Blood are each excellent movies in their genres.