Friday, January 8, 2010

Sita sings the blues

Every once in a while we get a movie that is completely fascinating, but defies categorization. Sita Sings the Blues is an animated retelling of the classic Hindu epic, the Ramayana, with a soundtrack of 1920's jazz tunes.
It is a (kinda) love story between Rama and his wife Sita, who gets kidnapped by the evil Ramana. Rama turns out to be a weak, suspicious and unsupportive husband, despite Sita's enduring love for him. If you are interested in the ancient culture of India or Hindu legends, then this is a great film for you.
The story is retold through different layers of animation: Indonesian shadow puppets, modern comic-style characters (Rama and Sita look like something from a Cartoon Network show), digital animation reminiscent of video games, and images in the style of Mughal paintings. The visuals are a beautiful mash-up of ancient and modern, and if you are interested in art and animation this is a great film for you.
The soundtrack has some wonderful Indian hip-hop music, which gives the movie a slight Bollywood flavor (as do Sita's dance sequences), and it is also liberally sprinkled with 1920's jazz tunes from Annette Hanshaw. If you are a true music lover with diverse tastes and a good ear for a beat, this is a great film for you.
Layered over the entire story is a modern autobiographical parallel, in which a husband leaves his wife behind in San Francisco to work in India for a year, extends his stay in India, and when she leaves America to join him, sends her back home and terminates their marriage. If you like sad relationship films, this is a great film for you.
It's January in Ketchikan and everything is wet, cold and rotting. The TV networks are showing the same old reality garbage, Hollywood is churning out the same special-effects blockbusters, and this is the dullest time of the year. If you want an eye-popping dose of energy, beauty and color, this is a great film for you...

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