Tag Archives: Movie

#3 Always a bridesmaid never a bride

Leonardo DiCaprio has been all over social media for NOT winning an Oscar, probably more that Matthew McConaughey. I am surprised how people think that Leo is the only mainstream actor who has yet to receive an Academy Award. So here we go with a few of my favourites who have not received an Oscar in the Best Actor category.

1. Gary Oldman

Known for his versatility, Gary Oldman is described as “a very strong candidate for the world’s best living actor” by Academy Award winner Colin Firth. Oldman was nominated for his performance in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) and lost to Jean Dujardin for The Artist. And this is his only Oscar nomination in his career. You can check out this list which puts it in detail why Oldman deserves an Oscar.

2. Jim Carrey

Speaking of being nominated, Carrey has never even got that far. After being praised for going beyond his comfort zone for The Truman Show and overshadowing his co-star in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mindit is extremely disappointing not to get noticed by the Academy.

3. Johnny Depp

Depp has been in the limelight for accepting challenging roles and pulling them off with ease. With the kind of performances under his belt, Johnny Depp has been nominated thrice in the Best Actor category, always leading to disappointment. However, an Oscar isn’t the only recognition one seeks is it? Depp, in 2003 and 2009. He has been listed in the 2012 Guinness World Records as the highest paid actor, with $75 million.

4. Sir Ian McKellen

He is Gandalf, he is Magneto but all those powers are not good enough to pull an Academy award towards him. Nevertheless he has received six Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BIF Award, two Saturn Awards, four Drama Desk Awards and two Critics’ Choice Awards.

5. Orson Welles

At the age of 23, he shook the world with the radio adaptation of H. G. Wells‘ novel The War of the Worlds. When he was 25, he made the film, which is considered as one of the best films ever made. He wrote it and acted in it. He shared an Oscar for the Best Original Screenplay with Herman J. Mankiewicz. Orson Welles gained national and international fame and recognition in mostly every possible media of that era. In 1970, Welles was given an Academy Honorary Award for “superlative and distinguished service in the making of motion pictures.”Rather than attending the ceremony he exclaimed: “I didn’t go because I feel like a damn fool at those things. I feel foolish, really foolish. … I made piece of film and said that I was in Spain, and thanked them.”

 

An Oscar is probably the most coveted method of acknowledging one’s contribution to Cinema. And in these 86 years we cannot even imagine how many legends have been deprived of it. But the most important part is, regardless of this recognition, they’ve measured success in different terms. Success and failure depends on our choice. There isn’t only one definition of success. It is highly subjective. And this is what I take back from it.

#1 Steve McQueen – 12 Years A Slave

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
~ Nelson Mandela
It is all about impotency of Solomon Northup and every other slave of that time. The cruelty and hypocrisy of the system and the relief of having a few good men.
It is fascinating of how different individuals can approach the same topic of racism in completely distinctive patterns. We had Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained last year in the nominations and this year Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years a Slave is one of the favourites too. Django focused on the fact that how capable an unchained slave could be and Northup’s story has the mournful touch of reality to it. Being a slave to the existing scenario stretches all across the film till the text in the very end.
When asked about 12 Years a Slave, people often talk about the brutality in most of the scenes. What moved me the most was the sub plots. When Northup is betrayed and enslaved, his companion on the ship escapes; finding the easy way out when his master comes down to rescue him. And Northup does the same leaving Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) behind.
Both the supporting actors, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael Fassbender are impeccable and steal the show. You can absolutely hate Fassbender for his cruelty and you can absolutely love Nyong’o for her innocence.
The narrative of the film is devastatingly slow which does not really appeal to my tastes. The film flaunts an astonishing cast and the performances of each and every major character manage to grip you throughout. The film adds a very high contrast to add even more to the discrimination which is fabulous.

#1 Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity

We need to hold on to a few things and we need to let go of a few. But we choose the wrong way.

It starts off with the most amazing tracking shot I’ve ever seen. It raises my expectations to a whole new level and never fails to awe me in the whole 91 minute run-time.

The story is a simple survival story, just like any other except it takes place in an impossible scenario. The groundbreaking technology that was developed and perfected to execute the film blends with the story and enhances minute details of it, making the experience more and more realistic is what makes the film stand apart. I have this particular firm standpoint that incorporation of methods and technique should be subordinate than the motive of storytelling. And the film explains why.

Cuarón admits using “visual metaphors” throughout the film. You are most likely to miss them unless you’ve trained vision to detect them in their small appearances on screen. But when you watch a film again and again, over and over again you realize how much thought goes behind every one of them. I have not seen all of his films as of now, but even in Prisoner of Azkaban the use of a few was noticeable.

The CG is so good in the film that it is hard to distinguish between what’s real and what is not. The actors have skillfully adapted to the rigs created especially for shooting all the Zero G shots. One can only imagine the kind of dedicated efforts both the actors must have taken to give one single perfect shot.

The film carefully distinguishes itself from fantasy and seems like a documentation. It makes sure that appears as a continuous experience of a catastrophe in space. Every new obstacle thickens the tension of the whole situation. The few moments of interaction, of exposition garnishes the urge of coming back on Earth. And the joy of Ryan simply standing up on her feet, being in control at last; makes you rejoice. Whatever it may be, it is a hell of a ride.

Gravity is received 10 nominations at the 86th Academy AwardsBest Actress, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Picture

#1 Martin Scorsese – Hugo

“People like to see the lives of artists that are legends. They always go through the dark periods and I think just as humans we like to see that and them coming out of it. I love those kinds of movies.”

~ Kristen Wiig

A mentor, who happens to be a very dear friend of mine describes Martin Scorsese‘s film Hugo as “Martin Scorsese’s love letter to the art of Cinema!” And I don’t think I can find better words to describe the film.

Scorsese has developed the novel by Brian Selznick, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” on celluloid and just as the novel, recreated history! Making it much more palatable and happy.

I do not know how many cinema-goers know who invented cinema. It has been more than a century and the global debate is still unresolved. Let’s go over the short version. The Lumière Brothers were one of the earliest to achieve moving images. Georges Méliès was initially an illusionist, a magician. He discovered the great possibilities in the art of cinema and built his own camera from the leftover parts from his automata. The Lumière Brothers themselves thought that people will not like to watch trains entering a station or an old woman sneezing for a great while and cinema will soon be an old trick. It was Méliès who thought otherwise.

Méliès, by the virtue of his expertise in illusions and his curiosity in films, was able to invent numerous in-camera effects. His films were a subject of awe for many years until his deal with Pathé Frères which led to his decline. Méliès was forced to stop making films because of his financial conditions and had to sell all his films, which were destroyed to reacquire raw materials they were made up from. I feel terrible as I write this – the fact is, the person whose contribution to cinema is so invaluable ended up as a broke toy salesman in Paris.

The Novel was a blend of images and words having 284 pictures between the book’s 533 pages and so is the film. When the film begun, I wondered for the first 5 minutes if the film was a silent film.

The tagline on the poster says, “One of the most legendary directors of our time takes you on an extraordinary adventure”. I love it how beautifully crafted the line is! I wonder if it refers to Scorsese or Méliès. Or both for that instance…

The film is all about fixing a few wrongs, making the wheels turn again and about changing times more than anything else. Every element in the film is a metaphor. Méliès inspired film makers and gave the concept of film making a whole new dimension, unraveling new realms. And that is how the film ends. It ends with hope as Hugo takes his first steps towards illusions.

When we think of Méliès and how tragic a phase of his life was, we, as filmmakers or new comers in any industry for that sorts get a whole new perspective. We compare the minor speedbumps in our journey to those of the greats of that time. Everything seems so different! I feel inspired.

I do not know how many cinema-goers know who invented cinema. Neither do I. It is an evolutionary process, modified, perfected and rectified by many heroes; looking through that small hole, breaking a few rules and doing what would someday go in textbooks. Méliès was one of them. And whatever we are, whatever we know about cinema as an expression, we owe a part of it to Méliès!

Here is one of his films – A Trip to The Moon (Le Voyage dans la lune – 1902)

#1 James Cameron – Aliens

The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.

~ Jessica Lange

Let’s hope that my honesty is not confused with stupidity. I wanted to watch Ridley Scott’s Alien, which supposedly revolutionized visual effects in film. Call it my luck or misfortune that I ended up watching its sequel first. So I am laughing and crying at m situation at the same time.

The Alien film franchise started with Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), James Cameron’s Aliens (1986), Paul Anderson’s Alien vs. Predator (2004) followed and the latest Prometheus (2012) by Ridley Scott is a prequel to the original Alien. And just the way technology advanced, content suffered.

*Talking about the film Aliens, the film is equipped with an uncomplicated three-act structure. The protagonist, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) confirms with Burke “You’re going out there to destroy them, right? All right, I’m in.” and that marks the second act. Similarly, when Ridley decides to go back and get Newt all alone, is where the climax starts shaping.

I would not talk about the visual effects, considering the film was out in 1986, much after the revolution and two years after Cameron’s The Terminator was released. I did not find them too compelling.

This film can be expressed in a flowchart format excellently. Ripley has two options, whether to accept or abort the offer by Burkes. Ripley has a premonition about the android being a traitor, either she is right or she is wrong. Burkes is going to successfully get the alien specimen through the ICC or not. Numerous conflicts form a thrilling composite.

On a negative note, the film started off with absolutely fabulous editing. The tempo of each sequence teased me with the sight of an alien and ended in an anticlimax, which indeed kept me at the edge of my seat. As soon as their mission begins, till the aliens actually show up, I felt the film was a bit draggy and monotonous.

About halfway across the film, I noticed one factor, which gives the film a great advantage over many others in the same genre. A year ago, when I was studying Cinema as a subject in college, I comprehended that any type of cinema, whether it is a neo-realistic cinema or an expressionist one, needs interesting characters. Interesting characters make cinema, an illusion seem convincing and gripping.

Aliens is equipped with extremely well orchestrated characters. We have damsel in distress, Newt; hero, Ripley; lover, corporal Hicks; Judas, Burkes; virago, Vasquez and most importantly, Ripley’s emotional aspect – Ripley as a mother!

I do not know if the makers thought of it while making it or it is a personal opinion about the film. The aliens breed by impregnating. The parasite uses a human body to produce an alien. The climax is a faceoff between the alien mother and Ripley, both trying to protect their offspring. In which Ripley succeeds.

Whether it is Titanic or the Terminator or in this case, Aliens, Cameron always reaches out to a superficial subject and weaves it excellently with human emotions.

*After watching The Terminator again, I realized that I was wrong in judging the visual effects of the film. Visual effects of Aliens are far more superior than The Terminator. Although I couldn’t help but compare the futuristic earth with the Colony in Aliens. Did you use the same set for both Mr. Cameron?

#1 Sanjay Leela Bhansali – Guzaarish (2010)

“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”
~ Anne Frank

This film was not to be missed while it was in theatres. Mostly because of Hrithik Roshan’s well appreciated performance. It was my fortune that today I ran into the idea of watching the film and I had it in my collection.

The film does not spend a lot of time in exposition at the start. We travel with the lead character and go back and forth in his memories till the very end to learn more about his condition. The first watershed moment – when Ethan decides to/ files his petition came to me a little earlier than I had thought. But of course with a powerful title sequence, the inability to control on Ethan’s life was justified.

Hrithik spends most of the time on the bed or on the wheelchair. The little while when he dreams about his past or his non-existent present, are moments to cherish. Through a perfect cast of the protagonist, the makers were able to achieve the vast void between what could have been and what there actually is.

My father argues that SLB treats his film like visual poetry. He indulges himself in the look of the film and the treatment to such great depths that the story has to compromise.

Sophia (Played by Aishwarya Rai) intrigued me the most. And I believe it was recognized with a Filmfare nomination for the best actress as well. Besides that so many characters, including the protagonist lacked the And that is where maybe the movie fails to grip the audience. And I wonder what a great risk it would be to make such a film. And how much conviction it would take to pursue making films in such a manner.

I learnt more about the characters from the frames and compositions rather than what came out of their mouth or what they did in the film. Cinema is a visual medium and the justice to the script, whether it is cinematography wise or shot selection wise is highly commendable.

As I contemplate some more, it makes me wonder about the uncertainty of our existence. A man, who has conquered everything, is just waiting to crumble someday and he does, to such a high beyond measure. We live in a world that is a mere delusion of control. We are as handicapped as Ethan. We are unable to control circumstances. Realising this, at least at once, I value my fragile life a little more.