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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oscars 2012 - Predictions

Like last year, here we go -

Oscars 2012 - 'Best Picture' Nominations Review

  • The Artist

        Movies about silent era are always charming. This movie oozed honesty and did justice to the thought that the script dealt with. Very well directed and acted, this movie captured everyone's attention on its festival screenings and wider release.

        Did you know : Some theaters, including one in Liverpool, England, issued refunds to moviegoers who were unaware that this was a silent film, and walked out early in the picture.
        Total nominations received : 10
        Our prediction :  Front runner and facing stiff competition from 'The Descendants'

  • The Descendants 
       One of best works by the director Alexander Payne and by George Clooney. It stands tall among the movies that come out in 2011. It dealt with emotions and comedy like not many other movies have ever done. Read the detailed review here.

       Did you know : Near the beginning of the film, Clooney's character says "I don't want my daughters growing up entitled and spoiled. And I agree with my father: you give your children enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing". This is actually a paraphrase from one of the world's wealthiest men, and the richest person in the world in 2008, Warren Buffett. In reference to how much money he would bequeath to his children, Buffett replied: "I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing." 
 Total nominations received : 
         Total nominations received : 5
         Our prediction : Looked set to win it but 'The Artist' may take the award away.

  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


        Panned universally by every major critic, this movie was a surprise nominee. It deals with the aftermath of 9/11 and focuses on a kid who has lost his father in that horrible event. Unable to live harmoniously with his mother, the kid sets out on the streets of New York chasing something in an unpractical quest of his own.    

       Did you know : Director Stephen Daldry hoped the film would be completed for the fall of 2011 so that it coincided with the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. 
      Total nominations received : 2
      Our prediction : Not even a remote chance

  • The Help

Based on a novel, the movie dealt with the horror that the Afro-American community went through in the 1960s. A brave and aspiring author decides to document all the troubles that the community was going through. A gritty movie that was very well directed and acted. It was certain to be nominated for the major categories and the academy duly honoured it.

        Did you know : Kathryn Stockett's book on which this film is based was rejected 60 times before it was eventually published.
       Total nominations received : 4
       Our prediction : May come out as a surprise winner but the chances are slim

  • Hugo 
        Whatever Marty does, there is a master touch to that. Scorsese's first 3D film had surely raised everyone's expectations. The movie didn't disappoint. It was delightful and touching tale of a kid trying to understand his late father's mechanical creation wandering around the train station in Paris. 3D was used like never before and it pleased the audiences everywhere. A deserving nomination!

      Did you know : After a screening that James Cameron attended, he called the film a "masterpiece" and told Martin Scorsese it was the best use of 3D he had seen, including his own films. 
      Total nominations received : 11
      Our prediction : Has garnered a lot of praise from the academy but chances are not great

  • Midnight in Paris  

        Woody Allen and the city of Paris. Had to be something different. It indeed turned out to be so. Helped by the brilliant screenplay, the movie is so well made that its tough not to enjoy every minute of the movie. Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard give great performances that seem so natural.

       Did you know : Woody Allen's first film to gross over $100 million worldwide. 
       Total nominations received : 4
       Our prediction : Woody Allen is pretty certain to win the award for the 'Best original screenplay' but this one doesn't seem too probable.

  • Moneyball

        Sports and movies are an explosive combination. A movie made on one of the most popular sport was well received thanks to its underdog to achiever theme. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill give towering performances in this movie based on real life of Billy Beane. Read the full review here.

       Did you know : Billy Beane is portrayed as a lonely divorcée in the film, though in real life he had actually remarried. Scenes were actually shot with Kathryn Morris as his second wife, Tara, that didn't make the final cut. However, Brad Pitt's character still wears a wedding ring throughout the film. 
       Total nominations received : 6
       Our prediction : Unlikely

  • The Tree of Life

Was it philosophical ? Was it a documentary ? Was it entertainment ? People around the world were puzzled but this piece of genius by Terrence Malick had all the movie aficionados drooling. This movie must be watched for its visuals alone and then must be given another watch to understand the story. Such movies are an event of rarity these days but must be appreciated and honoured whenever one gets to see one of these.

       Did you know : Some American theaters set up signs - warning moviegoers about the enigmatic and non-linear narrative of the movie - following some confused walkouts and refund demands in the opening weeks. 
       Total nominations received : 3
       Our prediction : Too strong for the academy!

  • War Horse
        This movie saw mixed reactions from the critics and audiences. Some labelled it as sugar-coated boring drama and at the same time the movie was lauded for its amazing portrayal of bonding between a young boy and his horse through wars and across geographical boundaries. Spielberg knows the craft and is too smart to get nothing right. War horse struck the right chords at many places and earned a nomination.

        Did you know : Fourteen horses played Joey during the movie. The "main" acting horse in the film, Finder, also portrayed Seabiscuit in the movie about the famous racehorse. 
       Total nominations received : 6
       Our prediction : Chances are next to none.

BOTTOM LINES : This list seems incomplete without movies like 50/50, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Margin Call and Drive. The academy got it wrong there but these 9 were the movies that got the final nod. Academy can do something right now and not spring another surprise by awarding an undeserving movie.
Courtesy : Youtube and IMDB

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Woman In Black : Scary

   It’s been a while since a good horror movie has hit the screen. Many "horror" movies these days just show blood in the name of horror. The Woman in Black does manage to scare you without much bloodshed.

  The stage is set in  the 19th century England. Arthur Kipps a lawyer who is working hard to make his ends meet in London, has a son to raise, and has come to terms with wife passing away. So to save his job, he moves to a small village in England to sort out the papers of an isolated mansion of a deceased mentally challenged woman. Once inside the mansion Kipps sees the spirits.

  The movie is well shot. The  country side looks really beautiful. The mansion itself looks very spooky and scary .  Everything about the mansion will make you feel its haunted. There are a few genuinely  scary moments. So if you are going to watch it, be ready to jump out of the seats. There are good surprises. The sound effects are particularly good.

  The Woman in Black has nothing new that you have not see before, but it’s done with conviction. Daniel Radcliffe gets out of Harry Potter mode into an adult character. If you have been a fan a of Harry Potter series, it will be hard for you see him play a dad, as you will still see him as a “boy”. But he does justice to his character and you will actually feel sorry for him.

 Over all The Woman in Black is good. It manages to make you jump out of your seats. 

Agneepath : Murdering the Classic

   When the first trailer of the movie released, which had bald  Voldermort looking Sanjay Dutt taking head on with an intense Hrithik Roshan, one only hoped that it would bring an end to drought of  villain characters that were so easily producible earlier. One of the most cherishing moments in such movies were not the mustanda exchanges between  Hero and the Villian fist,punch in the stomach fight sequences but the confrontation scenes, where one could take a dig at each other . 
So if I ask when was the last time we saw a hard core negative character, who enjoyed playing the Evil ,*stylishly* delegated tasks to his subordinates to wipe out the Good, by keeping  a check on Hero’s lady of her whereabouts, and the one who created his own world with Wines and Women. I say None. Last couple of years saw none of these elements in any characters. Prakash Raj even with his spontaneity  could only portray hyperactive roles in Wanted, Buddha Hoga Tera Baap and  Singham. SRK’s proclamation of his negative character in Don2 is farcical to say the least. Even Sanjay Dutt got an opportunity in Aladdin, but with little screen space and meat.
Hence Sanjay Dutt’s portrayal of Kancha Cheena in 2012 becomes the only hope to get back to those characters.

  Karan Malhotra’s visualization of a Kancha Cheena as a sadomasochist, a self-proclamation of Ravana with an introduction line “Tum Leke Aaye ho, Tum Kya leke Jaoge” is spot on and believable. But in the bigger picture it fails to strike the chord. Here’s how. 

Karan Malhotra’s version of revenge drama is not a remake to start with. The basic idea of the movie remains the same, but then so much has been tweaked that in an attempt to make an original, it ends up spineless and heartless, with over the top drama. An absolute tripe compared to the original. Even if it’s not compared with the Mukul Anand’s version it presents us with all the clichés of Karan Johar movies that we are so familiar with. 

Mukul Anand’s version which now has got a huge following because of Amitabh’s swagger and then infamous voice (Inspired after Marlon Brando’s character in Godfather)  is not only about Vijay Dinanath Chauhan’s retribution against businessman Kancha Cheena. Its also about a boy’s rise from the alleys of Mandwa to the Godfather of Mumbai. But in Karan’s version Vijay ends up as a Godfather of a local slum called Dongri, which later is turned into a K3G’s Yash Raichand’s family function, much to the liking of Karan Johar’s audience.

  Many feel  that the performances in the original  were over-dramatic. Be it Vijay’s arrogance while flaunting his appointment with death, or his fumbling of words while conversing with officer Gaitonde  or scaring shit out of his partners in crime, Amitabh did it all effortlessly. But was it Dramatic ? Yes. But if we have liked and followed him in Hum and others, then there’s no reason why we shouldn’t  admire him here. One cannot find such instances in the newer version at all. In fact there isn’t a memorable scene which would make you stand up and shower seetis. One of the important aspects of the original version was the “action-packed” dialogues viz Kancha Cheena’s favourite “Jo daayan haath karta hain , bayein haath ko pata nahi chalna chahiye, Yeh humara usool hai” and my favourite “Jala Daala .. “. But then there isn’t a single line which provides such fun. Instead it tries to cover up by inducing 1st level of RGV’s violence and some basic twists which we have already seen a million times in RGV’s earlier movies . And all this happens with intense looking Hrithik Roshan at the center, void with any style. Hence delivering a plain and unimpressive performance compared to Amitabh.

  If there is any kohl-eyed  moment in the  newer version , then its Rishing Kapoor as Rauf Lala. A conniving Don who plans, plots and almost pin down Vijay Dinanath Chauhan , hence making it more delightful to watch. Lala’s is a culmination(or say replacement) of all 4 local gunda characters of the original one. It's a treat to watch him play Bad and is the only silver lining in this movie. Equally painful is to watch Kancha Cheena’s character with the Sanjay Dutt‘s “Isko Bolte trigger” repetitive look from Vaastav.  Neither he is wild and funny as Amrish Puri in Mr.India and Vishwatma or Jaichand in Farishtey, nor is he absolutely serious as Dr.Dang in Karma. 
Unlike the clean , suave Danny Dengzopa the new Kancha has any logic and tries to impress audience with his constant eye-popping evil grins.

Yet again an original is ruined.

And yet again the fandom for original increases.  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ek Main Aur Ek Tu : Good


        Ek Main Aur Ek Tu has all the typical ingredients of the regular RomCom and is very predictable. Rahul, an architect meets Riana, a free lance Hajaam ( Hair Dresser) in Las Vegas . Rahul has controlling parents - Boman Irani and Ratna Pathak Shah , while Riana is “live in the moment” type of a character. They get drunk one night and get married . They decidoo to annul the marriage, that is when they realise that they get along very well. 

The movie unfolds with a few funny moments when the couple gets to know each other. There are moments where the humor falls down. Even though the movie is predictable with all the standard ingredients that go into RomCom, you will feel a connect with its characters. But the movie ends on a more mature note than the other regular RomComs , which will come as a good surprise.

Imran Khan gets into the Rahul’s character very well. Including an emotional scene where Riana takes Rahul to her school to show him around. Kareena Kapoor’s role is very much like her role in “Jab We Met” who encourages her counterpart to take life easy and have fun.She gives the movie energy with her bubbly performace. If you liked her in “Jab We Met” you will like her in this movie. Boman Irani and Ratna Pathak Shah play their characters of a boring success minded business man and fashion obsessed woman with conviction. The music too strikes a note Amit Trivedi and Amitabh Bhattacharya having done a decent job.

Overall the movie is good . Its engaging for most part and does not drag along for too long and has a different ending.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Lifeu Ishtene - Not a review


        For me, Yograj Bhat’s movies have changed the industry. Not just by dishing out quality and ‘different’ taste of cinema but also creating a platform for other moviemakers to think, to act and to make movies differently.  Though there are still 100s of shit-old formulaic film makers around, it is heartening to see a bunch of directors and writers attempting something new and different, consciously.

As part of the same renaissance , a young director who dropped out of his engineering course midway to pursue his movie dreams, made a movie named ’Lifeu Ishtene’ as his directorial debut and released it in 2011. Thanks to my absence from kannada-naadu, I wasn’t able to catch the movie at a theatre and was eagerly waiting to see it pop-up online. But, I was pleasantly surprised to see it being made available online legally and in pretty decent time after its theatrical release. So, I went ahead and rented it. What follows next is my opinion about it.

This movie is a story about Vishal(DIGANTH) who hopelessly falls in love with every other girl that he comes across. The movie starts with him being in a state of dejection after coming out from a failed relationship and gives us a glimpse of his unfortunate past. He then tries to steer himself away from another relationship only to realize that he can forget his past by only getting into another liaison. The story then talks about how the events give him a déjà-vu and how he deals with all that.

Is the story new? Maybe not. Is the treatment fresh? Definitely yes. Any story that is told in an unconventional way and/or with a heart deserves attention. This movie scores at both the points. It’s a very good script that the director Pawan Kumar works with and does total justice to it. He uses simple but at the same time pretty clever lines throughout the movie. Pawan works with a great team and ensures every department adds a touch of quality to the final product. Manomurthy, Jayant Kaikini and Yograj Bhat are at their usual best and I loved the songs contrary to many people’s voice these days that they are getting repetitive. Good things and classy stuff, my friends, can never get repetitive. The camera work by Sugnana is impressive and the good work is pretty hard to miss. Smart editing and very good use of background score make the narration interesting.

Digant is brilliant in his role as the gloomy and disappointed character hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Veena Sundar and Achyut Kumar playing the roles of his parents are very good and are amazingly spontaneous in their performances. The actresses, Samyuktha Horanadu and Sindhu Lokanath are impressive in their first outings and give good performaces but get overshadowed by Digant’s show. Ninsasam Satish is a treat in his role as Digant’s friend constantly showing him a mirror to make him understand what he does. The best thing about this movie is that there are no ‘why wasn’t this scene chopped at editing table’ scenes! This makes for a pretty tight story-telling but still doesn’t leave any gaping holes in the plot.

This movie is no candy-floss entertainment! It is realistic and sincere in its depiction of characters and relationships. The director succeeds to convey the message of learning from the past and letting things go. May what you do, the end can never be planned. Do everything with a heart and believe in good things that happen to you.

It’s good that this movie was made. It’s even better that it was liked. We need more and more movies like this one. We need a lot more young filmmakers to get inspired by the new wave.  The age old divide between the so-called commercial cinema and art cinema should get bridged. All good movies should get attention and must be praised instead of being classified as mainstream and art.

Watch this movie and embrace the good and honest side of kannada cinema!!

PS : This movie is not in theatres anymore. But, for people who want to watch it again or the ones like me who couldn’t watch it in a theatre, can watch it right here on this page [Pawan Kumar was glad to let me put this up here :-)]

PPS : Feel free to embed the below video on your blogs/websites too! Spread the good word about this movie and the efforts that the team is putting in to make it reach as many people as it can.