A Hidden Gem in ‘The Bonnie Situation’

So there is this movie that was released in 1994. It went on to win the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and brought to limelight a certain Quentin Tarantino. The movie goes by the name of Pulp Fiction. You may have heard of it. If you have watched it, you probably worship it. If you haven’t watched it, you WILL watch it….. and THEN you will worship it.

The Bonnie Situation: Pulp Fiction

I classify in the former. I can probably justify the worshiping aspect with the small fact that I have watched it at least 50 times (That is to say I lost count after 50). And perhaps the reason why I revisit the movie every now and then is because every time I watch it, I find something new – something I hadn’t noticed earlier. It is usually something very subtle, but profound. These moments usually get lost in the build up to a more memorable piece of dialogue which we generally look forward to on every repeat viewing. One such moment came to my attention a few weeks ago.

This takes place during ‘The Bonnie Situation’ part of the movie. This is where Jules and Vincent come to Jimmy’s (Tarantino) house to clear up the mess in their car after Vincent accidentally shoots Marvin in it. Needless to say, Jimmy is visibly upset with the situation he finds himself in and does not appreciate Jules much for putting him in it. This is the part where Tarantino utters one of the most memorable dialogues ever:

“Did you notice a sign in the front of my house that said ‘Dead N****er Storage’?!!!??!!”

Everybody who watches the movie is inevitably looking forward to this piece of dialogue – whether they like to admit it or not. The sheer audacity and the matter of fact nature of Tarantino’s character helps pull it off without sounding particularly offensive or explicit. But there is no need for me to talk about that. What I intend to draw your attention to is something that follows this above mentioned line. Specifically, it is how Jules reacts to Jimmy explaining that it “ain’t there to storing dead ni**ers in his fucking business!”. Watch the clip and see if you are able to catch what Jules exactly  says to Jimmy in response to his explanation.

Caught it? Jules says it exactly at 1:00 but Jimmy overrides him with a dismissive “No, no, no…”. See it?

Well, in essence, what Jules says to Jimmy is this:

“Jimmy, we’re not gonna STORE the motherf***er…..!”

Do you believe it??!!? Amidst all the drama and tension that Jimmy is expounding, Jules makes a sincere and genuine effort to actually CLARIFY to Jimmy that they do not intend to actually STORE the ‘motherf***er’ in his house! Now how is THAT for comic and ironic humor??!??  I can’t decide which part is more funny – the sincere intention and attempt to clarify, or Jules referring to the corpse as ‘the motherf***er’! It really is a gem of a line!

Now go watch it again….and again..and again!

As I had pointed out earlier, this is one of the many instances in the movie which can easily be missed while we look forward to all the memorable parts. There really are plenty more like this. The true joy is when you discover it for yourself. I have given you a sample. Now go watch the movie a dozen times and find more for yourself! Then feel happy that you got it!

Algorithm for a Heist Movie

Alright! Time to generate an algorithm that can be applied in any movie industry to generate a heist film. We have all seen it before and we shall continue to see it again. So here is the template for the archetype heist movie:

STAGE I: THE DEAL/OBJECTIVE

Location: Some shady place with a round table. Lots of cigar/cigarette smoke hanging in the room, visible through the dim overhanging light. Bunch of men sitting around the table smoking and sporting a supercilious attitude simultaneously. One of them is the protagonist and one is the arbit rich guy who wants to add something specific  to his collection. The intended work is generally considered impossible but protagonist exhibits supreme confidence making the rich dude believe that he already has a fool proof plan but just never got around implementing it himself. Another common aspect revealed during making of the deal is the intention of the protagonist (and presumably his team members, if any) to “retire” and so is looking for a big money job that will help his cause. The deal is made after the protagonist agrees a fee.

Or alternately, the protagonist decides to carry out a certain heist for his own personal purposes.

STAGE II: RECRUITMENT

This is the stage where the main characters of the movie are introduced. These are primarily the gonna-be members of the heist team which is already in place or the protagonist recruits after the deal is made. The following lists the characters usually encountered:

1. The Protagonist (Necessarily male): Always brimming with confidence. Gives the impression that the entire universe  has been playing its part all this time so his fool proof plan can work. Sometimes he can put plans into action without other team members knowing it, which also serves as a source of his confidence  amidst lots of apprehensions being expressed by his team members. Fate varies.

2. The Computer Geek: Usually someone the protagonist knows. Is expected to be familiar with the latest in gadgets and technology. Dude didn’t make it big in  corporate geekdom as he couldnt clear IIT-JEE or other entrance exams owing to his ADD Syndrome. So decided to put his awesome programming skills to hack into alarm and security systems. Fate varies.

3. The Lock Picker: Also someone whom the protagonist is familiar with. Picks locks. Very likely to have been a duplicate keymaker a while back before he got caught by the cops trying to “misuse” his talent. Emerged from jail (where he could have met the protagonist) to join the team. Fate unknown.

4. The Driver: Mainly used for getaway purposes. Is likely to have a history of being a mechanic. Has very specific intentions with his share of the money: usually a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. Fate varies. More likely to waste his money before buying either of them.

5. The Enthusiastic kid: This is usually someone who is picked up during the planning. Kid shows enormous enthusiasm as he has highly unrealistic dreams and usually lives in the dreamworld. Sees this heist as his passport to that world and readily agrees. Sometimes made to carry out acts without being aware of the risks. Fate: Always gets shot while escaping.

6. The Girl: Always the girl friend of the protagonist. Others may have their eye on her (and this may lead to the final twist). Main purpose of the girl in the team is to distract potential stumbling blocks (like security) with the judicious usage of deep cleavages and short skirts. Necessary qualifications for the role of the girl: 34c cup size, IQ<80. Same fate as the protagonist.

A meeting is called of all the above characters where the protagonist reveals the objective. It is usually met with a lot of skepticism from the majority of the crew members and many just walk out on the idea. However, certain inevitable  personal circumstances compel the skeptics to rejoin the mission. It should be noted, however, that the protagonist ALWAYS would have made arrangement for ALL team members.  At this stage there is usually a group shot of all the team  members in a recognizable uniform sporting lot of confidence and attitude.

STAGE III: PLANNING

The entire team embarks on a lengthy planning procedure almost always involving surveying the target under disguise, noting down the positions of the CCTV Cameras, security timings and more significantly the change in their shifts. A mole maybe planted but usually the girl shows enough cleavage to secure the required information. Blueprints of the floor plans and alarm systems materialize out of nowhere. (I suspect the Right to Information Act comes handy here).The entry and escape routes are determined.

The planning usually takes place in an arbit shady place, much like where the deal was done, only with more light and a lot more electronic gadgets. The planning stage sometimes consists of the construction of a device that will eventually be used to deceive the people in charge of the item to be stolen.

STAGE IV: REFLECTIONS

This is a very short stage wherein the different characters reflect on the mission ahead of them the next day. Usually intended to provide inspiration for the job.

STAGE V: EXECUTION

The crew gets ready with all their equipment, sporting the respective costumes. The costumes are largely a function of the role of the person and the disguise it may be necessary to get near the item. Irrespective of what one wears, one always has access to ear-pieces/ walkie talkie. The Compute Geek begins his job by hacking into the CCTV feed. He then proceeds to upload a tampered feed to the security personnel giving them the impression that ALL IZZ WELL! (LOL! Couldnt resist!) The tampered feed usually involves a repeating video footage of the building where nothing significant is shown to happen. The computer geek then disables most of the alarms but for some reason, almost always, he is unable to disable the laser rays guided alarms. And this leads to the mandatory and inevitable scene wherein the protagonist and/or the girl go through the maze of laser beams by the generous use of acrobatics so as not to touch any of the beams. The protagonist then proceeds to get hold of the object after the lock picker has put his awesome skill and talent to use. They then make for the escape route. During the escape, in spite of all precautions, some alarm is always set off which alerts the guards and security begins to chase the team members. During this chase, at least one team member dies. And it is almost always the Enthusiastic Kid, and along with him, his big dreams and fantasies.

STAGE VI: TWIST (OPTIONAL)

A fallout between the team members is common. They turn against each other just before getting rewarded for their success and all may end up dead. Another twist could be the presence of a mole in the team who is also likely to die-shot by the protagonist himself. A common twist is the pulling off of an ancillary mission during the main mission which would usually have to do with something personal on part of the protagonist. Other team members need not be aware of this and they may have willingly taken part in it without their knowledge as well.

The stolen object may even be recovered by the authorities whereas the rich guy who made the deal may end up with a duplicate of the object. This is usually planned much in advance by the team members but it is not revealed till the end. Other twists also exist.

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So there you have it. The most widely used template/algorithm to generate a heist movie. Slight variations are often implemented.

PS: This post was inspired by the Vigilidiot blog, which is really one of its kind. But I first decided upon writing this after watching, what is perhaps the first Kannada heist movie- NAVAGRAHA. Decent movie, but very cliched.

Of ‘Sacs’ and Grudges…WTF?

I had to write this! This shit is perhaps the most incredible thing I have gotten to witness over a couple of weeks! Truly unbelievable! And at the risk of sounding too condescending, let me also say it was just plain dumb! Here is what happened:

I had been to my grandmother’s home today in the afternoon to attend some annual we-all-remember-our-great-grandmother-day where the entire pot bellied brethren-most of whom have already resigned to just lead a vicarious life through their kids- found themselves in one place with their kids, in order to, well, remember the great grandmother! I happened to see a few of those kids after a long time and found that they had quite grown up. One dude was just beginning to explore the nuances of college freedom-and it soon became evident he was not quite ready for it. Then there was this other dude who suddenly claimed he was now studying for his Tenth Board Exams! I mean the last time I saw this kid, he was being an integral part of a typical South Indian marriage scene by acting out the part of the kid pestering his dad to buy him one of those cool(??!!??) plastic toy guns from the Balloon-wala who was standing in front of the Marriage hall sporting a supercilious attitude! This dude has a very troubled past filled with self abuse. Not the wrist slitting or drug consuming kind. I am talking about the getting oneself injured kind. And to this guy, injuries take a whole different meaning altogether. He used to have atleast 2 fractures a month and once even fell from a height of 5 feet over an iron pipe- with his legs on either side of it! Thats right! He hit the ‘Sac’! So much so, he had to get it stitched back! Ah! Imagine that! Getting your ‘Sac’ stitched back! ( It is also said that he held his ‘Sac’ with his bare hands for over an hour at school before the teacher noticed blood flowing on the floor!) So it was a little hard to believe he was actually in Tenth now but I presumed he was indeed talking the truth.

Now you see the thing is, among all the kids on my mother’s side (the great-grandmother also from my mother’s side), I am the eldest and so by default get to play Big Brother and sometimes even Godfather to these kids. From time immemorial, I have officially been the ‘smart kid’ or the ‘intelligent kid’ in the family(now of course having transitioned to the ‘smart graduate’). So every other kid in the family have at one time or the other, been told, quite explicitly, by their parents,  to emulate me through some very inspirational one-liners such as: “You know Akshay Anna’s(brother’s) best friend? Books! You should also read books. Then you will also become like him” and “If you work hard, like Akshay does, then even you will get 1st Rank, like AKshay does!” (Ok when the f*** was the last time I actually stood first in my class?)

So you see, I have been the role model and the source of inspiration for all the family kids. These two now grown up kids were no exceptions. From day one of their schooling, they were taught to emulate me, and maybe even connived to do one better than me! I am not sure about the results, but I never heard of them going one better than me. Not to worry.

Now before I get to the crux of this dumb shit, it has to be notified here that I was at one time a very good chess player and during my more enthusiastic days, I had taught these two kids how to play chess. Again, they were taught to emulate my skill in the game by their parents. I remember to have played some really short lived games during the time I was teaching them the basics of strategy. And it so happened that there was this huge break when I had completely forgotten that I was once a chess maniac and instead began to focus on issues of more importance like IIT-JEE and AIEEE. And the last time I played a game of chess was about 3 years back.

Now, coming back to the day, the lunch meal for this occassion, as per tradition, was deliberately made to be as inedible as it can be made. And so after going through the mandatory ordeal of the lunch, I finally was able to just sit and do nothing. Or so I thought. Suddenly these two now-grown-up kids proposed they play a game of chess with me. I was surprised by their enthusiasm and thought to myself: Ok I am meeting them after a long time. I might as well play a game with them. But then I knew there was no chess set at my Granny’s place and told those kids so. But lo and behold! These dudes had apparently suspected that and had got their own chess set! I was again a bit surprised but proceeded to arrange the pieces to play against the more hyper active kid-The kid with the stitched ‘Sac’. It was then that I heard his equally enthusiastic Dad comment loudly to no one in particular: “He has come here solely to play chess with Akshay anna and to beat Akshay anna!”

WTF??? I mean WTF??? Apparently this dude’s sole purpose of visit was to prove that he had become better than me at chess and as an extension, better than me in general! It suddenly looked like he had been nurturing this desire of his to beat me at Chess for quite many years. It was as if he had been preparing for years together just for this one match! In fact, I could sense some kind of a grudge he had against me. For what? I have no clue. But as he began to play, it was not difficult to see he was playing with a purpose and a well prepared plan of attack! With some vigorous body language, he seemed to tell me his life will somehow attain some meaning when he beats me in that game!

Fifteen minutes and 25-30 moves later, I find I have won. Apparently he had improved over the years, but not enough to challenge my out of touch brain cells! And then immediately I hear statements like: “You were lying when you said you have not played since 3 years.” and “Do you play at the State Level?” and “Do you go for Chess training?” and “You are a very good liar!”

Again, WTF?? I play a game of chess with this dude, partly for old times sake and partly not to disappoint him and now I find him trying to justify what he feels is possibly the worst defeat of his entire life!!! And as I began to acknowledge the other dude’s request to play a game with him, I saw this guy suddenly become very silent and non responsive. I didn’t pay much attention to it till the time his mother came out and said,”Why are you crying? Oh you are crying because you lost a match to Akshay anna? Dont worry, you learn from him about the different moves and strategies. He will help you!” And THAT crushed him real bad! He made a big effort to hold back his tears and disappointment. But for all his efforts, it was pretty clear he had imploded! Again, WTF? Wake up kid! Get a life! Its just a game of chess!

But in the end, I had to give him some advice on improving his chess and none more important and necessary than what Jason Statham said in REVOLVER : “You can only get smarter by playing a smarter opponent!” (Ah! How appropriate!)

The other dude also had similar aspirations. But his was less of a grudge and more of a dream to beat me at Chess. I will leave you to guess the outcome of that game. And again, after the game, the parents of both the kids gave some parental advice about how they should follow my example and learn from me, directly asking me to offer them advice on how THEY should shape THEIR futures. Me being the officious kind, started on my usual dose of Anti-Software and Anti-ENgineering content and saw them losing interest and so changed my stance to just Anti-Software, after which their attention was revived!

And so at the end of the day, their parents again directly asked me in front of the kids to give them some more advice the next time they met! I smiled at them and enthusiastically replied “ANYTIME!!!” And so thus ended the day, me still undefeated and still the guy to beat!

BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME KID!

PS: All the facts mentioned in this post are 100% true, including (and especially) the ‘Stitching of the Sac’.