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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A-Z Movie Meme

December 24, 2008

movie-poster-collection

Ok. This is a fun ‘Meme’ which I stole from ruhi. The idea is to list out all your favorite movies in the alphabetic order. Quiet simple, but fun. Fun because there is no complication of rating one movie over another and such stuff. So here we go…

A is for Annie HallWoody Allen
The woody Allen favorite. Sincerely funny and smart! I think this movie is the best  prototype to the entire work of Allen. Love this guy!

B is for Bicycle theivesVittorio De Sica
Pure Classic and Beyond any words! ‘The more you watch it the more you love it’ kinda stuff!
B is also for The Big Lebowski
–Coen Bros.
True inspirational stuff! I ‘am aware of the irony here but the dude is simply too cool!

C is for The Children of Heaven– Majid Majid
The language of the film is surprisingly simple and touching. A movie that can be watched again and again.
(or The City of Gods)

D for Dr. Strangelove– Stanley Kubrick
Arguably one of the Kubrick’s best work (Space Odyssey is not being avioded. It is  considered as something much much above any catogarization!). Quoting one review in imdb- “the only movie that will make you laugh at the end of the world!!”
D is also for Desharadham – Sibi Malayil (Malayalam).
Beautiful movie and one of the finest performances by one of the finest actors in the country- Mohanlal.

E is for The Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind– Michel Gondry
An extremely well constructed romantic sci-fi (or whatever you call it)!
(Or The Edge of Heaven)

F is for Fight club– David Fincher
Get ready to resurrect yourself with the fight club! This movie was almost an addiction for me at a stage. Tyler Durden is truly one of the best movie characters ever.
(or  Fargo or Following)

G is for Goodfellas– Martin Scorsese
Arguably Scorsese’s best work. Intense.  Joe pesci is unforgatable. Truly a priceless piece of art.
(Or The Good the Bad the Ugly)

H is for Heat– Michael mann
Its Pacino v/s De Niro Like never before. And also Mann’s craft in conceving crime saga is most evident here.

I is for Iruvar (Tamil) – Mani Ratanam
Mani ratanam’s best. Mohanlal’s best. Exceptional cinema.
(or In the mood for love)

J is for Jackie Brown– Quentin Tarantino
De nero with  QT. What else do you need? Excellent OST too!

K is for Kill Bill Vol 1&2– Quentin Tarantino
Pure Tarantino magic again. Extremely well etched out cinematography, fighting sequences, Bgm etc.  And the intensity of Uma Thurman! Well you seriously can’t ask for more.

L is for Laberinto del fauno, El (a.k.a Pan’s Labyrinth) – Guillermo del Toro
A movie which restructured the genre of fantasy movies, well at least for me. A haunting Experience. Del Toro is simply too innovative.
(or Life is beautiful or L.A Confidential)

M is for Memento – Christopher Nolan.
One of the most intelligently constructed movie ever. An unbelievable work by Nolan. Also one of the most inspiring work of art for me. I mean how could people create movies like this?
(or Moonam pakam (Malayalam)- Padmarajan)

N is for No Country for Old Men– Coen Bros.
Simple, powerful and breathtaking. Coens at the top of their craft.

O is for Oldboy– Chan-wook Park
From the beginning till the end a breathtaking thriller. And these Korean actors,  they are simply awesome.
(or O brother where art thou– Coen Bros.)

P is for Pulp Fiction– Quentin Tarantino
A movie which essentially changed my outlook on movies. QT at his best. Travolta, Bruce Willis, Samuel Jackson all at their best. One hell of an experience.

Q is for ‘Ask them to make more ‘Q’ movies’!

R is for Requiem for A Dream– Darren Aronofsky
An intense take on drugs, loneliness, love and human resistance and much more. Aronofsky  is a genius.
(or Ragging bull or Reservior Dogs)

S is for Saving Private Ryan– Steven Spielberg
Exceptional again .Spielberg is too good when he makes movies like this.  The cast is also great. I love Tom Hanks.
(or Schindler’s List or Sandesham (Malayalam) )

T is for Twelve Monkeys – Terry Gilliams
One of the best time travel movie I have seen. Beautifully and intelligently constructed. A thrilling experience.
(or Taxi Driver)

U is for Untouchables– Brian De Palma
A perfect classic style crime saga.

V is for Vertigo– Alfred Hitchcock
A murder mystery that is so much more than what it seems to be. The tremendous depth in the characters of the movie is just awe-inspiring. Greating acting too.
(or Vanaprastham(malayalm)- Shaji  N Karun)

W is for Wall-E– Andrew Stanton
Pixar movies seems to be getting better with each new one. Really lovable characters and enjoyable plot are mostly their highlights. Wall-E is no different.

X is for X-men- The last stand– Bret Ratner
The best ‘X’ movie I guess. 🙂

Y is for Yojimbo – Akira Kurasowa
A great example to the great story telling talents of Kurasowa. Beyond any distinction of generations, languages and cultures. Like almost all of his movies. Maybe the ‘coolest’ movie from Kurasowa. Loved it. Totally.

Z is for Zodaic– David Fincher
I think it is the fascination of an ongoing case being made into film that differentiate Zodiac from other movies. The true essence of the original happenings can be felt in the cinema and hats off to Fincher for that. Needless to say I love this man and I love his movies very much.

Uhh….The Longest post ever! I should have been really mad to write this all up! Shit!

P.S: One important point to be noted here is that the priority was given in finding and assigning at least one movie for each letter. And hence this may not be quiet the  list of my favorite movies. There is a slight difference between the two.

I would love to see  more people doing the meme, by the way!


Quentin Tarantino is GOD!

October 27, 2008

 

A short film directed by ‘300ml’ (Brazil) on Quentin Tarantino and the hidden code in his works.

OMFG!
The ultimate video for a QT fan…

I ‘am still not freed of the shock this one gave me…
huuuwwaa….! 

p.s: On a second thought, I’am not sure if the facts told by this video is 100% agreeable, yet anyway it is 100% enjoyable  🙂


Festival of Films

October 19, 2008

Last week was a fun week. The main reason was the international film festival organised by the arts section of our college. It was a great, ‘free-of-cost’ opportunity for us. We were more than happy with this unexpected fortune, which sure did offer us the chance to get a peek view into some internationally renowned classics, that too at our doorsteps! Last week was also the week for some god damned lab exams, which tried to make things harder for us, but who cares anyway!

We started off with an Indonesian film- ‘The Wall’(2007) directed by Lin chichu Ju. The movie (the opening film) soon became a background happening when the whole of the audience started acting crazy. The comments, both funny and lame, started to fill the auditorium and the mood was soon shifted. All you hear is the long wooing and some occasional claps when a lady appears on the screen. It was a college, and it was an art cinema. Nobody expected anything else in there. It is not like we were bothered by all these, we were simply enjoying it all. Don’t assume us to be some cinematic snobs sitting in the middle of all these and cursing one and all. As I said we were just being part of it all. Soon came a brilliant explicit sex scene, where the protagonist expresses his desires, which were kept in check for long 8 years! Crowd just got insane! The female part of the audience started to flee from their seats as if they saw something they were not supposed to see. As if they were never gone be in sex. You know, when you are there at the scene, it’s seriously funny! After that scene almost 40% of the auditorium got emptied. The male part of the audience also lost their vigour. It was all the more comfortable movie watching after that. Talking about the movie, yes it was beautiful. The cinematography was exceptionally absorbing. Though I was unable to understand the film completely, the credit of having seen an Indonesian film, of which I can’t even find a link in the imdb, is quiet fulfilling!

On the second day, we saw ‘El Violin’ (2005), a well renowned Mexican film directed by Francisco Vargas. Telling the story of a village in Mexico, that gets in between the fight of an insurgent group with the Mexican government, through the eyes of a grandfather, a father and a son, ‘el violin’ surely was one of the best things about this little film festival. Shot in B&W, the movie is both beautiful and touching. Picturising an intense & violent political drama, with not even a single violent scene on the screen was, just amazing. From the very beginning, Ángel Tavira, the actor portraying the old man in the film, would keep you gasping by his natural performance. No wonder he won a best actor award at the Cannes festival. The rest of the cast was also perfect in their roles, like the Capitan played by Dagoberto Gama. The film talks a lot during its short 98 minutes time span, and keeps you interested till the end. One hell of a movie, which I would have definitely missed if not for the film festival!

Gavin hood was the only director with more than one film in the festival. ‘The Storekeeper’(1998) was a short film from him, telling the story of a store keeper in Africa. The storekeeper is worried by the thieves in his place. He invents a number of methods to fight them, but all of them only lead to more dangerous consequences. Silence is effectively used as the language of the film. Like all the Gavin hood movies, this film also travels through the agonies of the poverty struck African people. At the end, “The storekeeper’ will surely leave a chill in the hearts of the viewers.

Gavin Hood’s Oscar winning, ‘Tsotsi’ (2005) was another attraction. This dark emotional tale of a cold blooded gang member and a baby, who accidently comes into his life and changes everything for him, is truly a masterpiece work. ‘Tsotsi’ is an intense experience, which is both well made and absorbing. All credits to the director. When a Brazilian novel is made into a cinema in African circumstances and when it acquires international acclaim, the presence of a contemporary and universal ‘message’ within the film is quiet clear. More than anything, ‘Tsotsi’ is a movie of Hope. For that single reason this one is sure to stand out for a long time.

The next one was ‘The Edge of Heaven’ (2007) by the Turkish director Faith Akin. I’ am not completely sure but I think this was the best movie I saw in the festival. It definitely was the most ‘interesting’ movie among all the others. From scene one onwards you will be engaged with the characters of the movie. The film is essentially about the ‘reach out’ between two generations, two cultures, two individuals. The first thing about this movie is its remarkable narrative style. An up-close character study of a father and a son, two mothers and two daughters, narrated in such beauty and essence that you can’t just take your mind off them, even after you finish watching the movie. The film maker repeats the scenes before us, but the second time we are watching a scene, it would have acquired an entirely different meaning before us. Such techniques keep the audience completely engaged with the flow of the film. The two ways narration employed in the movie is another important aspect. You just can’t stop wondering about the richness in the script. No wonder again, that it won the best screenplay award at the Cannes. The cinematography, the music, the editing everything stands out. The cast was also fine especially Nurgül Yesilçay as Ayten Oztruk. The movie talks about a large number of contemporary issues that are both political and emotional. The movie ends at where it begins and during the journey in between we see a lot about desire, hatred, loss,fear, endurance, redemption etc. and all that remains at the end is true human affection, that knows no gap between generations or cultures or anything. A very rich and rewarding movie experience!

Though I saw a few more movies there, I think this would be enough for this blog post. Apparently, it was really a great experience for me. We tried to make the maximum out this. Then again, about the crowd, after that first day, crowd wasn’t a problem. Actually, there wasn’t much of a crowd after that first day!

** “we” refers to me and a bunch of my ‘mad about movies’ friends…


Akashagopuram

August 23, 2008

 

Inspired from the Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen’s famous play, “The master Builder”, Aakshagopuram is a Malayalam movie set in the back drop of London. This one has got a Global nature in almost all its aspects, and it is the first of its kind in Malayalam Cinema. It also features an international release.

Talking about the film, I ‘am not sure, if there have been a better film adaptation to a ‘play’, in the entire Malayalam film history.In fact Malayalam cinema have never cared to adapt from literature, neither Malayalam literature nor any foreign literature…

Albert Samson(Mohanlal), the movie’s protagonist(the master builder), is one of the most powerful characters created in Malayalam cinema over the last few years…As Mohanlal himself said, there is immense number of shades to his character…and his portrayal of the character, is just magical…the subtlety he express in each of his movement…the body language…the way he brings out all those restrained emotions…..all these seems too surreal. Don’t know, if anyone else in Indian cinema could do justice to this character.His involvement with character is simply awesome….he seems to have enjoyed playing every bit of this character…

The movie is completely about this one character- Albert Samson, his rise and fall in his profession, as a human being, his fear of the younger generation, his greed, his love, his desire…

To make a convincing and faithful adaptations to one of the world’s greatest writer’s masterpiece work couldn’t have been that easy. The point is that KP Kumran has done it masterfully. He was completely successful in keeping the essence and depth of the original…The movie is just 1hr 45 min and there is not even a single unnecessary scene.

The technical side of the movie is at such heights, where Malayalam cinema could never reach, up till now. Combining the best technicians from west and east, the movie looks too rich. The technical brilliance of the film just adds to its perfection. All such achievements make sure that finally we can proudly show one of our Malayalam cinema, to the world.Camera and art was done brilliantly. Felt some minor faults with the editing, which however is easily forgettable…

The music is yet another highlight. The veteran Hollywood music composer John Altman (Titanic, Shall we dance…) has done the film’s music. The part music played in creating the mood required for the film is inevitable. Sound design is also done by a biggy, Niegl Holland (Batman Begins, Brave heart…).The films music will surely stay with you…

The film is highly symbolic and there is definitely a lot of things in this small (in length) film…it all depends on how you look at it…like all classics…the film will be rewarding only if you are ready to give it, it’s due respect..

The Reception for this movie in Kerala, is however a sad thing. One of the costliest Malayalam movies is now running in the theatres without much audience. The movie is widely being marked as an art film and many are keeping away from it. I don’t expect such movie to run in packed houses from day 1, but surely it demands more respect.

Kerala is the place which has produced many masterpiece movies in Indian cinema and also many geniuses in the field.But the present condition of Malayalam cinema is pathetic. The quality of the Malayali audience is also degrading.

This movie wouldn’t be a box office success. But true movie lovers should watch this film (with the right inclination). And, for this acting legend-Mohanlal.

As for me, this movie was far beyond my intellect, and hence was a great enlightenment (I would have to watch it many times to understand it more). It made me so happy, mainly because rarely do such things happen in Malayalam cinema.

To make a final verdict, I would like to repeat that, Aakshagopuram is one of the best play (or any literature, for that case) adaptation in Malayalam film history. Try to watch it.

A trailor:


Kamal Hassan- The Exceptional Genious!

December 21, 2007

kamal.jpg kamal2.jpg

This interview of Mr. Kamal Hassan telecasted in Manorama Vision channel was mind blowing! This single interview speaks a lot about this man and his personality. Let it be about his acting talents, or about what he says, or about his views on different social happenings, or anything… He is an absolute genius.
When he appeals us to “try to become ‘Wright brothers’ rather than dreaming of becoming a bird with wings”, we are ‘inspired’ to our core. Now that’s a genius thing!


He talks about his life, his role models, movies (all in fluent Malayalam) etc etc.
Watch the interview: CLICK HERE
Waiting for the next part…