India at the Oscars....

On the topic of the Oscars® you may wish to see all the movies ever sent in by India in an article on wikipedia.

My personal belief & opinion is that the movies that get nominated and win in the Best Foreign film category are all films, in order of priority are the ones that -1. Deal with human emotions 2. Portray stories that can be easily understood and felt by western audiences 3. Reflect the life/history/culture of the country the film is made in, in a manner that reflects the way it is perceived or understood by western audiences.

Yes, Lagaan was an exception in spite of its 3.5 hour length and numerous songs and dances.

Since the Golden Globes® were scrapped due to the writer's strike (as mentioned in my post -65th Golden Globes® in jeopardy? and Golden Globes® scrapped ) I wonder if an arrangement will be reached before the Oscars® or will the Oscars® too get reduced to a 32 minute press conference to announce the results ? I hope not.


Dharm & India at the Oscars

Those of you in India with a passion for cinema and those of you with a passion for news would have heard of this movie. If you do not belong to one or both of these categories, it is very unlikely you would have heard or viewed this movie.

Obviously, I couldn't catch it's theatrical release although it was advertised sufficiently on TV channels and the thanks to The Oscars® it got more publicity than the film maker debutante Bhavana Talwar would have ever imagined. How is that, you might ask? I will tell you and that's the reasons for the combined title to this post.

Having watched Ekalvya, India's official entry to the Oscars® and of course it didn't make it to the final nominations, I believed then that the movie in spite of its colour and grandeur was completely soul-less and was put together by a director who gave more attention to the colours, scenes rather than the story and script. When I watched Ekalavya I never in my wildest dreams thought it possible that it would be my country's official entry to the Oscars® but then in a country of over a Billion people with complex emotions and needs, anythings possible. Shockingly Ekalvya was the official entry to the Oscars® ! Bahavani Talwar, the director of Dharm then went to court cotending the selection and I wondered why !I watched Dharm on VCD and I realised why.

Dharm is far superior to Ekalvya in all means, in performances- Pankaj Kapur as the staunch Brahmin pundit (in Dharm) scores easily over Amitabh mumbling into his beard (in Ekalvya), in story- Dharm is a simple story, although done over many times of a staunch Brhamin and his battle with faith after affection, human bonding enter the fray compared to a so called royal thriller where the ancient walls of the palace hid secrets (in Ekalvya), in film making- Benares actually plays a role in Dharm with some wonderful cinematography and in direction-Bhavana Talwar keeps it simple and sticks to a simple tale. Overall, Mr Vidhu Vindod chopra (director and producer of Ekalvya) could learn a thing or two. I guess Mr Chopra still basks in his past glory (which had its merit) and has become more of a producer now than a director. If he's going to churn out more Ekalvyas and believe they deserve nothing less than an Oscar® representing my country's films then I for one, would request him to relocate to another country perhaps which does not have rich film-making talent.

Dharm, while being a far superior to Ekalvya does not rise above being a good debut film with fine performances primarily due to the fact that the storyline is not unique and with a catch line like-come challenge your faith, you would only I think-I've heard this before. The movie is till worth watching and buying a VCD (if not a DVD) of, for it gives you a rare glimpse into culture, tradition and emotions that you do not see often today.


Eagerly Awaited-Cloverfield

Cloverfield was one of the most eagerly awaited movies of 2008. The Movie had one of the best marketing campaigns ever with just planned snippets of handled camera shots, images of a headless Statue of Liberty and a date Eighteen-oh-Eight being publicised all over the Internet, which of course was the release date. Produced by J J Abrams who gave us the hit TV series LOST (which seems to be getting lost with no end in sight) brings this tale of Manhattan being attacked by monsters.
At the moment it has'nt received too great reviews. You can read more about it at Rotten Tomatoes

Cloverfield - Trailer

Posted Nov 19, 2007

A monster attack in New York as told from the point of view of a small group of people.


Halla Bol

Halla Bol is an invitation to come together and raise your voice in unison on an issue of common concern.

The film by Rajkumar Santoshi like some of his previous films Lajja, Damini, Ghayal etc tries to bring to screen another tale with a social context interwoven into the motivation of the protagonist. In this case a popular film star Sameer Khan (Ajay Devgan) who came up from a theatre troupe of a reformed dacoit Sidhu (Pankaj Kapur) and has slowly forgotten the cause of the theatre group he belonged to which used drama to highlight social issues. A murder he witnesses and subsequent events make him doubt his own purpose and look for a reason to be who he is, while regaining the admiration and affection of his wife (Vidya Balan) and the trust of his mentor Sidhu.

You have the usual baddies right from a Liquor Baron to a politician, corrupt police officials and spoilt children. for those of you familiar with the Jessica Lal murder case which gathered media momentum, you will see that it has its influences in this film. there are the usual exposures of the way the film industry functions, the on-night stands, the casting couch, the actor getting the co-star's role edited etc Pankaj Kapur shines in his role purely by his presence, look and performance. Ajay Devgan does not have too much to do and Vidya Balan does whatever the role lets her do.

There are a couple of wonderful scenes such as the street play being done when Sameer Khan used to be Ashfaqullah Khan in Sidhu's troupe, the scene between the media and Vidya Balan etc. Sadly, the movie fails to strike an emotional chord with you, possibly because you are already familiar with the outcome of the Jessica Lal murder case or possibly because the film although trying to highlight a larger issue invoking the public to rise, looks at a single instance and ends it in finality.

I couldn't help comparing it to Rang De Basanti a mega hit in 2006 which also had a single event as the portrayed issue and motivating factor for the protagonists but the treatment and the ending ensured a kind of euphoria or inspiration that carried on beyond the movie. Hall Bol fails to evoke any such feeling. I must commend Rajkumar Santoshi though, for trying to blend the social context he had in mind with a modern story. The movie could be watched once I think.


National Treasure: Book of Secrets

This is the movie which opened to a great box office response and has garnered over 275 million USD.For those of you who have watched National Treasure (part 1) and liked it, this movie will be liked too. For those of you who loved reading an adventure novel and loved being lost in a world of treasure hunting, smart villains and lost of chases, dangerous passages etc will love this movie, the sequel called the Book of Secrets.

Benjamin Gates (Nicholas cage) and Patrick Gates (Jon Voight) are out to prove that Ben's great grandfather was not a part of the conspiracy to kill Abraham Lincoln. Yup, the movie begins with a sequence set a few days after the American Civil war and shows John Wilkes Booth assassinating Abe Lincoln. Ben Gate's great grandfather comes across a treasure map (considering the movie is named National treasure, what else !) and burns it to ensure it does not fall into wrong hands and dies in the process.

Ben Gates recounts this tale at many a university after his fame from discovering the Templar Treasure (in part 1) keeps him famous. But then, comes Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris)from another family from the civil war days with proof claiming Ben Gate's great grandfather was not a patriot but in fact the mastermind of the Lincoln assassination !

The proof being a page from the diary of John Wilkes Booth which is the book of secrets ? The story thereafter progress with two parallel plots or objective, one being Ben Gate's intention to clear the name of his ancestor and the other being to find the ancient treasure of the city of Gold. Ben is joined by his loyal friend and bumbling partner Riley Poole (John Bartha) and then ropes in his now separated girlfriend Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) to join the adventure

I like adventure stories too. They remind me of my childhood days where I would take a novel and not rest till I finished reading it. I like a good movie too. But then, when a movie sticks to its familiar pattern of one liners, bumbling friends, suave stylish villains and of course ancient (tremendous value to American history) hidden treasure, you wonder, what is there in this movie to make it so successful ?

Belive me, the answer is 'nothing'. All the box office takings possibly because there was no other major commercial entertainer releasing at the same time. Helmed by Jon Turtletaub who also made the first movie, this movie was a gross disappointment. It was like one of those toffees you keep chewing to see what's inside and are disappointed to find some gooey, not so tasty stuff. The movie just doesn't hold you as the first one did and yes I am aware that most sequels do not live up to their original (except maybe for The Godfather I & II and the Star War original trilogy). The movie has all the usual elements including the cold eyed, tough & confident villain portrayed awesomely by Ed Harris and the beautiful historian. Yes, there's a surprise too with Helen Mirren turning in as Ben's mother and who also happens to be an expert on ancient languages. Explains the fact why Ben is so good at what he does (including kidnapping the president ! Whew !)and then there is the FBI agent Sadusky (Harvey Keitel)who seems to know everything,says nothing but gets to all the right places at the right time.

Am I being too harsh on this movie ? I think not. Did I enjoy watching the movie ? Should you watch it ? Well...I can't tell you everything. Decide for yourself !


Golden Globes® Scrapped

Ok, this is probably old news now but the Golden Globes® Award ceremony has been scrapped and will be replaced by a 1 hour news conference where the winners will be announced.

Obviously, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is disappointed.

Now, the Oscars® scheduled for 24th February are a cause for concern. Will they be affected too ? I hope not.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has refused to budge on the royalties issue so where this will lead is yet to be seen.

ps: Allegedly over 1.5 Billion USD is considered to be the loss of earnings in the industry due to the strike, which is supported by Hollywood stars like George Clooney !


65th Golden Globes® in jeopardy ?

The 65th Annual Golden Globe® Awards scheduled for 13th January 2008 appear to be in jeopardy with Hollywood actors conveying through various representatives such as the Screen Actors Guild and their marketing agents, that they will not cross the picket lines put up by Hollywood writers

The Hollywood writers are on strike for quite some time now demanding a greater share of earnings from DVD and digital sales.

Why else do you think a lot of TV shows haven't yet come out with their new seasons ? Even Jay Leno has come under a lot of heat for coming back after a two month absence and writing his own material since his 15+ member writer team is on strike!

The Golden Globe® Award is given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association every year in January. This year there are over seventy-two actors in the nominations.

Nominees for the 65th Annual Golden Globe® Awards are:

Cecil B. DeMille Award
Steven Spielberg

Best Motion Picture - Drama
American Gangster
Eastern Promises
The Great Debaters
Michael Clayton
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie – Away From Her
Jodie Foster – The Brave One
Angelina Jolie – A Mighty Heart
Keira Knightley – Atonement

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
George Clooney – Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis – There Will Be Blood
James McAvoy – Atonement
Viggo Mortensen – Eastern Promises
Denzel Washington – American Gangster

Best Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy
Across The Universe
Charlie Wilson's War
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Amy Adams – Enchanted
Nikki Blonsky – Hairspray
Helena Bonham Carter – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Marion Cotillard – La Vie En Rose
Ellen Page – Juno

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy
Johnny Depp – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Ryan Gosling – Lars and the Real Girl
Tom Hanks – Charlie Wilson's War
Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Savages
John C. Reilly – Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Cate Blanchett – I'm Not There
Julia Roberts – Charlie Wilson's War
Saoirse Ronan – Atonement
Amy Ryan – Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton

Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Casey Affleck – The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem – No Country For Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Charlie Wilson's War
John Travolta – Hairspray
Tom Wilkinson – Michael Clayton

Best Animated Feature Film
Bee Movie
The Simpsons Movie

Best Foreign Language Film
4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days (Romania)
The Country of Romania
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (France, United States)
The Country of France and The Country of United States
The Kite Runner (United States)
The Country of United States
Lust, Caution (Taiwan)
The Country of Taiwan
Persepolis (France)
The Country of France

Best Director - Motion Picture
Tim Burton – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen – No Country For Old Men
Julian Schnabel – The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
Ridley Scott – American Gangster
Joe Wright – Atonement

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Written by Christopher Hampton
Charlie Wilson's War
Written by Aaron Sorkin
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
Written by Ronald Harwood
Written by Diablo Cody
No Country For Old Men
Written by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Best Original Score - Motion Picture
Grace Is Gone
Composed by Clint Eastwood
The Kite Runner
Composed by Alberto Iglesias
Composed by Dario Marianelli
Eastern Promises
Composed by Howard Shore
Into The Wild
Composed by Michael Brook, Kaki King and Eddie Vedder

Best Original Song - Motion Picture
"Despedida" – Love In The Time Of Cholera
Music By: Shakira and Antonio Pinto
Lyrics By: Shakira
"Grace Is Gone" – Grace Is Gone
Music By: Clint Eastwood
Lyrics By: Carole Bayer Sager
"Guaranteed" – Into The Wild
Music & Lyrics By: Eddie Vedder
"That's How You Know" – Enchanted
Music By: Alan Menken
Lyrics By: Stephen Schwartz
"Walk Hard" – Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Music & Lyrics By: Marshall Crenshaw, John C. Reilly, Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan

Best Television Series - Drama
Big Love (HBO)
Damages (FX NETWORK)
Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
House (FOX)
Mad Men (AMC)
The Tudors (SHOWTIME)

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Drama
Patricia Arquette – Medium (NBC)
Glenn Close – Damages (FX NETWORK)
Minnie Driver – The Riches (FX NETWORK)
Edie Falco – The Sopranos (HBO)
Sally Field – Brothers & Sisters (ABC)
Holly Hunter – Saving Grace (TNT)
Kyra Sedgwick – The Closer (TNT)

Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Drama
Michael C. Hall – Dexter (SHOWTIME)
Jon Hamm – Mad Men (AMC)
Hugh Laurie – House (FOX)
Bill Paxton – Big Love (HBO)
Jonathan Rhys Meyers – The Tudors (SHOWTIME)

Best Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
30s Rock (NBC)
Californication (SHOWTIME)
Entourage (HBO)
Extras (HBO)
Pushing Daisies (ABC)

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Christina Applegate – Samantha Who? (ABC)
America Ferrera – Ugly Betty (ABC)
Tina Fey – 30 Rock (NBC)
Anna Friel – Pushing Daisies (ABC)
Mary-Louise Parker – Weeds (SHOWTIME)

Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Alec Baldwin – 30s Rock (NBC)
Steve Carell – The Office (NBC)
David Duchovny – Californication (SHOWTIME)
Ricky Gervais – Extras (HBO)
Lee Pace – Pushing Daisies (ABC)

Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made for Television
Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee (HBO)
The Company (TNT)
Five Days (HBO)
Longford (HBO)
The State Within (BBC)

Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Bryce Dallas Howard – As You Like It (HBO)
Queen Latifah – Life Support (HBO)
Debra Messing – The Starter Wife (USA)
Sissy Spacek – Pictures Of Hollis Woods (CBS)
Ruth Wilson – Jane Eyre (PBS)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Adam Beach – Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee (HBO)
Ernest Borgnine – A Grandpa For Christmas
Jim Broadbent – Longford (HBO)
Jason Isaacs – The State Within (BBC)
James Nesbitt – Jekyll (BBC)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Rose Byrne – Damages (FX NETWORK)
Rachel Griffiths – Brothers & Sisters (ABC)
Katherine Heigl – Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
Samantha Morton – Longford (HBO)
Anna Paquin – Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee (HBO)
Jaime Pressly – My Name Is Earl (NBC)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Ted Danson – Damages (FX NETWORK)
Kevin Dillon – Entourage (HBO)
Jeremy Piven – Entourage (HBO)
Andy Serkis – Longford (HBO)
William Shatner – Boston Legal (ABC)
Donald Sutherland – Dirty Sexy Money (ABC)

You can know more about the awards at imdb or at the official site of the Golden Globes®

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