Oscars 09

February 18, 2009

oscar, academy award

Oscar 09 is not so much of an interesting subject, I know. But last time I wrote a similar post on the Oscars and ended up getting some major traffic on the blog. So that’s not a bad thing and here we go again.

It’s a mess when you think of this year’s Oscar nominations. Forming an opinion is too confusing. But predictions would be easier, I suppose. The suspense of the academy awards have become so much of a cliché that I think they must start doing something just to break this predictability. They must give the awards randomly to completely unexpected contestants. Of course there would be a lot of uproars and criticisms but they will be there anyway and will only do good to the business. Okay, I was kidding and the academy shouldn’t really get confused over that. Let’s go deep into the matter!

slumdog millioanire

Now, I can bet my very own ass over the ‘Slumdog millionaire’ this time. Slumdog is on this dream run which is totally getting on my nerves now and which would most probably continue at the Oscars too. Wait, let me explain. I did like the slumdog first time I saw it, for the sheer quality of film making drawn in and didn’t care to think further into the subject as it appeared nothing more than a complete entertainer to me. Don’t you all remember that dance number at the end of the movie? And I thought all such stuffs are included in movies as a signal for the award guys to stay away. I was apparently wrong and I don’t like it that way. I mean you knew they were never going to consider the Dark Knight for the awards and why couldn’t they be a little more clearer with all their procedures and rules? But anyway, Slumdog is in and the Dark Knight is not. So let’s discuss about slumdog. Never has a movie been made before, which had the slums of Mumbai portrayed in such details and beauty. Mumbai is the capital to bollywood, where countless movies are made every year and never have you been able to see such close and heartwarming image of the slums as you see it in the slumdog. The first time I saw the movie all the comparisons were up between the slumdog and the richy rich bollywood movies. At least I believe they are on the same genre of mass entertainers. Slumdog did well in such a comparison. But when you move further, when you see all this ‘sweepings’ that the movie is doing at every international film awards, things gets a bit difficult. I saw Slumdog two more times since then. Yes you really can’t completely disagree with those people who claim slumdog to be another example of poverty porn and yes the realism of the story seems to be heavily influenced by how the westerns would like to see it and yes to most of such appraisals. But above everything, does the plot involving the story of a slum guy winning this huge prize money on a TV show and the senseless romantic plot that supposedly leads to all these, hold such credibility to win all these awards all around the world? Purely it’s a NO from me. The story is neither convincing nor moving beyond let us say, a general level. But I do repeat that it’s well made. Be it the perfectly immersed cinematography or the gripping editing, everything had the kind of feel goodness about it. But most importantly, the music department of the film, which played a major role in me liking the film the first time and something which helped me get through the whole deal the second and third time. And this brings us to the mastero A .R Rehman. The three nominations in the name of A. R will be the most important part of the Oscars this time for any Indian. Music of slumdog was nothing short of being sensational and it will finally bring some due international acclaim to the great Indian music director. But again, there is no great tension over that, as I think Rehman would surely win the award(s).

Then there was The Curious case of Benjamin Button, which became a disappointment for me in many ways. The movie was not bad, but it was disappointing anyway. When one of your favorite director and actor teams up to make a movie on a curious enough subject, you are certain to form some expectation levels of your own. In my case this exactly became the trouble. Well it’s difficult to see some one of the caliber of David Fincher ending up with such a conventionally styled movie. You expect these men to break the pattern and they do just the opposite. Benjamin button has got almost every important ingredient in it- a great cast, curious plot premises, amazing visual effects, top notch technical quality etc etc. But unfortunately all these things wouldn’t add up to an interesting cinema. I don’t know exactly why, but the movie is just not very engaging in most of its moments. The performances, especially that of Pitt’s, was just awesome. The period detailing by Fincher was awesome too, but as I already said, it is still very difficult to find such charm in the end product. For a movie which came with the promise of being ‘curious’, Benjamin button’s story ended up being too ordinary. But no much surprise on the huge list of nominations that this movie have managed in the academy. And it would possibly win many awards too, most of them in the technical side. It’s exactly the kind of movie that these academy people love to encourage.

Moving on, Frost/Nixon was quiet a good movie from Ron Howard. The movie was very successful in inflecting the necessary mood. The line between the documentary and drama is properly maintained by the script. The interviews which form the essential point of the plot is so very well presented that it gets both exciting and intriguing. The performance of Frank Langella as Richard Nixon was exceptional. The acting gets so convincing, especially towards the end of the movie that it really becomes the highlight of the whole film. However, I ‘am not quite sure about many awards for this movie. Not really sure.

Now, the academy’s love for gay movies are very well known and this time too they have made no difference with Milk. Milk pulls off because of its extreme faithfulness to the portrayal of the life of the San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official. All the spirit that the movie evokes is truly and completely what the true life story of Harvey milk holds in it. Backed by the amazing performance by almost all of them in the cast, especially the one by Sean Penn, this movie has surely got good chances at the Oscars. But, except for the extremely brilliant performance of Sean Penn, I don’t really see any reason why I should remember this movie for a long time. But anyway, I would love to see Sean win the best actor award but they simply has got too much competition in that category.

Reader, Kate Winslet

Reader is possibly the most ditched movie among this year’s Oscar nominations, both by the regular movie lovers and by the top critics. I don’t understand why that is so, but I surely loved the movie. Now the very low expectation levels in me may have helped, but that’s not important. The peculiar character of Hanna Schmitz played superbly by Kate Winslet remains to be the most important, interesting aspect about this cinema. The filmmaker’s approach to the portrayal of Hanna Schmitz is also very interestingly peculiar. Maybe this same ‘unusualness’ has resulted in many misunderstandings about the message of the movie and ultimately to all those negative opinions. Schmitz’s character has got this undeniable evil shade to herself throughout the movie. But we are restrained from making any sorts of judgments. The filmmaker quiet successfully pushes the entire question of right and wrong with tremendous amount of perplexity, on to the viewers. The decisions that most character’s makes in the film are so realistically strange and we are constantly made aware of how fragile we are all with our own secrets and choices. The emotional presentation of the tale is also quiet beautifully handled so that the movie is completely engaging when it should be. The intense performance of Kate Winslet remains as the main strength to the whole movie. Kate would win the award, I think. But besides that I don’t see too many chances for this film.Nevertheless, I was deeply moved by this one.

Mickey Rourkey’s performance as the struggling wrestler in the movie  The  Wrestler is truly a sensational comeback performance, as they call it. And the movie itself is no less beautiful. Aronofsky’s craft is well evident in this simple but intense tale of rare characters. The documentary feel in the story of a wrestler guy is quiet strange but that’s exactly why this movie is so involving. Under any other style, the whole plot premises would have appeared silly to most of us. Aronofsky’s is too brilliant a filmmaker to go completely wrong! It’s mostly like how you shoot it on your handicam and it feels so close to us that way. Especially the final moments of the movie involves such catharsis for the viewers. It is a shame that the academy hasn’t given this movie a nomination into the best movie category. I really feel that this film was one among the best last year.

The joker,The Dark Knight

Wall-E would most probably win the best animated movie Oscar and I also see good chance at the best original screenplay category too. But they wouldn’t give that to Wall-E anyway. I’am not sure about the screenplay department this time, but Slumdog shouldn’t really win the adapated screenplay category. But again, I think they will give it to Slumdog only. Whatever. Heath Ledger should surely win the best actor in a supporting role category. If he doesn’t, that will lead to huge public depression, that wouldn’t  really do much good to the business! But yeah, Heath ledger was really phenomenal and there is no reason why he shouldn’t be honored by the award.

I ‘am not going further into making more predictions. A post of this size was not really in my intentions. But anyway, I ‘am stopping now. Huh wait, I have got another idea too. Here is how I voted at the joblo’s Oscar prediction contest. In case you are interested. In some categories like the foreign film and documentary film etc the vote has been made with the help of throwing a dice!! Wish me good luck in winning the i-pod and have good fun for yourself too!

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Luck By Chance- Review

February 6, 2009

luck_by_chance_movie

I have never been this close a follower of the Hindi films as I ‘am right now, that I have started feeling a bit guilty about it alltogether. Lately, I had a few real bad experiences at the theater in the form of some bollywood blockbusters which led me to this above mentioned guilty feeling. I wouldn’t have cared to go to the theater for another hindi movie now, if not for all those great reviews everywhere, the good mouth publicity, the ’Akthar’ factor and everything that differentiates this cinema. So, last day I watched ‘Luck By Chance’, and yeah, I was not disappointed. Not a bit!

The safest and perhaps the most appropriate option before any filmmaker on his/her debut is to make a movie on a subject which is very much familiar to him or her, a subject on which he or she has got an immense grasp and a direct involvement. Zoya Akthar has hit bull’s eye just doing that. The movie, ‘Luck By Chance’ is so much of a first person account on the hindi film industry, by someone who was born and bought up in the midst of all those glamour and glimmer, that the entire movie looks almost cent percentage authentic. And perhaps the most important point is that it is not as authentic as it appears. The director apparently knows too much on the subject she is sharing with us. The perfectly executed comical inside commentaries in the movie becomes such an important aspect of the film’s narrative, that it really holds the entire movie together.

But despite everything else, I wouldn’t have loved this movie this much if not for the nearly flawless performance put on by the entire cast of the film. Rarely do you get an opportunity to see such solid acting here in the bollywood. The comicalness, the fun is mostly in the manner how  the actors perform it and not it any dialogues or goofy filmy situations. Konakana Sensharma is sensational as Sona, an aspiring actor, who is struggling to find a place in the industry. It is with such great essence that Konakana actually brings out every tiny little gestures of the central character sona alive on the screen. Rishi Kapoor is hilarious as the big shot movie producer, Romy Rolly. Even Juhi Chawala, in a comparatively smaller role as the beloved wife of Romy Rolly, shines where ever she appears. Farhan Akthar’s performance as Vikram Jaisingh is nothing exceptional. But he too manages to avoid any serious flaws. He delivers such a plain performance, that’s neither too great nor too bad. The script is straightforward and a very well thought out one. Cinematography was fine generally, though at times the visuals seemed largely influenced by the commonly followed prototypes. The songs were incorporated beautifully in the movie that they had a separate beauty in the film. The Bgm used is also very light but is quiet effective.

At the end, Luck By Chance is not an unconventional experimentation of cinema or a pattern breaking attempt on storytelling. It’s just another hindi film, with all those commercial aspects carefully included, like all those fast dance numbers and the celebrity cameos. It follows the very conventions of a normal bollywood movie. But still it’s a good movie. And that’s the point!

8/10