Monday, February 19, 2007
Anywhoo...Oscar week is here. Before the Golden statuettes are handed out this coming Sunday, here are my picks.
Performance by an actor in a leading role
Leonardo DiCaprio - BLOOD DIAMOND
Ryan Gosling - HALF NELSON
Peter O'Toole - VENUS
Will Smith - THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
Forest Whitaker - THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND
All of the nominations in this category except Leo, seems well deserved. Blood Diamond was very much an average movie and too soap-box rhetoric for its own good. A forced romance, cliched lines just continued to spoil a movie which could have been so much better.
Where is Matt Damon in this list? His performance as Edward Wilson was one of the best. he potrayed a man struggling to maintain his convictions with such precision. It was a shame that he was not nominated.
Where was Jack Nicholson? No other actor could have brought Frank Costello to life in such a humorous and menacing manner.
My pick : Foresh Whitaker
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Alan Arkin - LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Jackie Earle Haley - LITTLE CHILDREN
Djimon Hounsou - BLOOD DIAMOND
Eddie Murphy - DREAMGIRLS
Mark Wahlberg - THE DEPARTED
Eddie Murphy won the Golden Globe and he is being picked as the favorite. And with lobbying getting stronger, Mark Wahlberg's name is also getting mentioned. But none of those two performances have anything on Jackie Earl Haley. His portrayal of the sex-addict/pedophile in 'Little Children' made me squirm in my seat. The uneasiness he was able to evoke in me (and am guessing, rest of audience) is more than good reason for why he should win.
Adam Beach's portrayal of Ira Hayes in "Flags of our Fathers' definitely deserved a nomination. His portrayal of the moral conflict of a soldier thrust into limelight for political reasons was a very good one. Djimon Hounsou is a good actor. But Blood Diamond was not one which showcased his skills.
My pick - Jackie Earl Haley
Performance by an actress in a leading role
Penélope Cruz - VOLVER
Judi Dench - NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Helen Mirren - THE QUEEN
Meryl Streep - THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
Kate Winslet - LITTLE CHILDREN
This is one category where one of the nominess so ahead of the rest that if any of them win, they may not have prepared an acceptance speech. Helen Mirren's performance in "The Queen" is one which trancends the movie screen. The performance is so original and believable that you cease to realize that you are watching a movie.
My Pick: Helen Mirren
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Adriana Barraza - BABEL
Cate Blanchett - NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Abigail Breslin - LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Jennifer Hudson - DREAMGIRLS
Rinko Kikuchi - BABEL
Jennifer Hudson won at the Globes, but I am not sure if she deserves it. For me the performance of Abigail Breslin the adorable "Little Miss Sunshine", was so nuanced and convincing that I feel she deserves the Oscar.
My pick - Abigail Breslin
Achievement in directing
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
Lot of people have been saying that Marty should win because he hasn't won all this time. I feel this is just absurd. Don't get me wrong, 'The Departed' was a very good movie. But was it the best of 2007? Probably not. And where is Alfonso Cuaron in here? 'Children of Men' has to be the most under-rated movie of the year (and Babel the most over-rated movie of the year).
There must have been very few movies which have been so difficult to make than 'United 93'. To make a movie surrounding sucvh a huge tragedy without coming of as patronizing or Hallmark-ish is a very difficult task. Paul Greengrass did that to perfection.
My pick: Paul Greengrass
Best documentary feature
DELIVER US FROM EVIL
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS
MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY
I have only seen two of these documentaries - 'The Inconvenient Truth' and 'Jesus Camp'. Inconvenient Truth is the crown favorite but let us face it for what it is. It was mostly a video-taping of Al Gore making a presentation. While I love Al Gore and his efforts to fight gobal warming, it doesn't necessarily mean it is a good film.
Jesus Camp on the other hand dealt with a subject which plagues this country - evangelical christians, in such an even handed way. The film makers did a spectacular job of ensuring that both sides are heard.
My pick - Jesus Camp
Best foreign language film of the year
AFTER THE WEDDING
DAYS OF GLORY (INDIGÈNES)
THE LIVES OF OTHERS
I have seen last three listed in this category. All three are good movies but Pan's Labyrinth and The Lives of Others outrun 'Water'. Out of these three, Pan's Labyrinth's marriage of fascistic regime with a Gothic fairytale was cinema at its best.
My pick: Pan's Labyrinth
Best motion picture of the year
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Where the heck is 'Children of Men' in this list? Little Miss Sunshine was adorable and wayyyy better than Babel. But maybe it was not good enough to get an Oscar. The Queen was a good movie in terms of the acting and direction but the 'best movie' needs a more than that. Babel was way over-rated and Letters from Iwo Jima was average.
My pick: The Departed
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Say silly things just because it makes her laugh
Argue intelligently just because it challenges her
Call her between work just because she loves that attention
Whisper 'I love you' just because of the glow it brings to her eyes
Feel her fingers run through my hair, because it's the ultimate relaxer
Feel her body next to mine while we dance, because it's the ultimate foreplay
Feel her arms around me when I cook for her, because it's the ultimate appetizer
Feel her hand in mine when we walk, because it's the ultimate reassurance
Rest my lips on her, because it feels so right
Smell her hair in the morning, because it makes me feel truly lucky
Rest her head on my shoulder, because I know she trusts me
Hold her tight, because she loves me as much as I love her
Be away from her just because of the joy I get when I see her again
Be close to her just because she makes the worst of days seem right
Talk endlessly because I know we never get bored of each other
Say nothing...because I know words are no longer a necessity
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Like a bride's veil
Shielding all the turmoil inside
The sheets of rain thundering down
Dissolve everything in a blurry haze
The blowing wind once in a while
Guides a reluctant drop inside
My skin tingles under its touch
Almost a gesture to join the dance
The rain spatters off the leaves
As they try in vain to catch a few
Like a lover clutching the sands of hope
Waiting for that long lost love
A few trickle down the power lines
Only to fall to the ground in mid journey
Akin to the rat race we reluctantly run
Only to know failure is just a mis-step away
The first step is the toughest
As the first few drops sting my skin
Then it is just a heavenly cleansing
But...what I need is a rain within.
"One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul, and yet no one ever comes to sit by it"
It seems to have this strange resonance with me which is borderline troubling. I think I like this one better.
"We build walls not to keep others away but to see who is strong enough to tear them down"
Monday, September 11, 2006
Love marriage was yet to enter the vocabulary. Probably back then, there were more pressing issues at hand - like making a living. He worked in a textile mill. While she worked for the state government. And their marriage was arranged.
Even though she was soft spoken and quiet, she always had an independent spirit. And that was the driving force behing him leaving the family home to find a new home for his family. While a couple of his brothers were hot in the pursuit of wealth, he chose the simple pleasures of an average job and family.
Both of them worked hard to make the ends meet. And at times pulled up short. Sending three kids to good schools comes with a price tag. But her reassuring calm in the face of crisis and his complete trust in her abilities to manage the family, saw them through.
And these are my parents. Last tuesday was their 35th wedding anniversary.
The more I have seen of this world, the more I have realized how lucky I am.
My mom never really watched english movies. But she made sure that we developed a taste for good movies. Watching "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", "Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory" are part of my childhood memories only because of my Mom. She never read much english literature. But she consciously cultivated a love for good books in us. Getting us abridged versions of "Around the world in 80 days", "Robinson Crusoe" were just her marvellous ways of doing that.
My dad taught me never to back off from a challenge. Whenever there was something that needed fixing around the household he would step in. He may not know Shakespeare but he was a genius at finding solutions to everyday problems. And I was always his little helper. More often a reluctant meddler than helper. Thanks to him, even today I am not shy about getting my hands dirty.
While we were by no means poor, it wasn't smooth sailing either. Most of the time we had 'just enough'. But my parents never hid anything from us. They treated us like adults and let us have our say. They encouraged us to be independent and responsible for ourselves. Never have we been scolded for bad grades. They used to just say "We don't have lot of money we can leave behind. All we can do is give you a good education. It is upto you to decide what you make of your life.". And that has stayed with me always.
Maybe we don't say this enough, but we love you. Wishing you a happy 35th !
Your little boy
Monday, September 04, 2006
Tears of blood stream down my cheeks
My heart wrenches in deep despair
My mind wanders without any direction
Loneliness has caged me from myself
I crave to see a familiar face
I long to hear a recognizable voice
But all I see are faces unknown
And all I hear are voices unheard
I hope to make some new friends
Maybe be the reason for someone's smile
But friendship seems a thing of the past
Acquaintances are all that remain
I hope to find someone I love
Someone who will see the real me
But they say love is over-rated
Dating games are all that remain
We are born in a crowded room
We bid farewell in an another crowd
But where are they when we need them most
When we are alive...but all alone
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Probably the most awaited flick of this summer. Everyone was curious to see how newcomer Brandon Routh would fill the big ol' shoes left behind by Christopher Reeve. Add to that we had the director who had given us the delightful first two episodes of the X-Men trilogy at the helm - Brian Singer. So the anticipation was high, to put it mildly. The former aspect worried folks than the latter. But surprisingly the latter was teh one which lost the movie. Brandon Routh did most things right. But that didn't make up for the flaws in the movie.
Superman has never been one of the dark superheroes (like Batman) so the treatment of the movie really failed the franchise. Superman had never been much about emotional intenisity. To put it simply, it was about flying around in a red cape and saving the world. Singer unfortunately overlooked it and there came the free fall without a parachute. Not even the always brilliant Kevin Spacey could break the fall.
My rating : 2/5
An Inconvenient Truth
Probably the most important movie to come out this year. If the blazing summers and the raging hurricanes aren't the cue for the world to wake up to the reality of global warming, here was yet another nudge.
Based on the presentation Al Gore has been giving around the globe, the movie awakens us to the stark reality of global warming. Even most of us who are aware of the dangers of global warming are not quite cognizant about how imminent the danger is.
Now only if we could get the mainstream media to dedicate some time to reporting on this rather than on John Mark Carr or Baby Suri.
My rating : 4/5
This was the first of the 9/11 centric movies to come out this year and my favorite among the two. More so because of the raw nature of how this movie has been made. The use of a near anonymous cast, including people actually involved with the incidents made it feel so immediate.
Paul Greengrass's measured approach to depicting the events of one of the darkest days in history, was simply brilliant. Trying to stay true to the information at hand, Greengrass has created a movie which almost feels like a documentary - and I mean that as a compliment.
My rating : 5/5
The Devil wears Prada
As if we needed any second affirmation to the fact that Meryl Streep is probably the greatest actress alive, she carries the movie all through and elevates it from a flick-based-on-chick-lit to a delightful movie. She brings the icy Miranda Priestly to life only like she can.
The mannerisms, the low voice, the icy glances etc combine to create a character on screen which is worthy of an Oscar nomination.
My rating : 3/5
World Trade Center
Probably it is the sheer gravitas of the events surrounding that dark day that tempered a fiery film maker like Oliver Stone into churning out such a restrained movie. And this subdued version of Stone works well.
Based on the accounts of two Port Authority police officers rescued from the rubble of the twin towers, WTC shows us the other face of tragedy. One which stands up to be counted when it really matters, the one which does its duty even at the risk of personal danger, the one which does the right thing because it IS the right thing to do.
It is tough not to be inspired by the bravery of the firefighters, police officers and all the others who were willing to rush into the burning buildings or step through the rubble even it meant saving just one life. They are truly America's finest !
My rating : 3.5/5
Little Miss Sunshine
A girl from Albequerque wearing geeky-glasses and a tummy, seems an unlikely candidate for a kid's beauty pageant. But throw in a coke snorting Grandpa, Neitzsche loving brother who is on a vow of silence, a gay cousin with a failed suicide attempt, a Dad scraping for his career as a motivational speaker, a mom trying to hold it all together and a VW bus. You have more than enough ingredients to make a delightful indie comedy.
The movie tracks this family's journey from Albequerque to Redondo Beach so that Olive can participate in the Little Miss Sunshine contest. The cast is simply outstanding and aptly cast - Alan Arkin, Steve Carrell, Greg Kinnear, Toni Colette are all exceptional. But the movie belongs to Abigail Breslin who brings Olive to life.
And hey, how can you not love a movie which ends with dancing to Superfreak :)
My rating : 4/5
The plotline is simple - a friendship between a teacher with a coke addiction and his student. Sounds like made-for-Lifetime, right? Wrong. Unlike the usual student-teacher movies, it doesn't try to preach. There are no life altering changes which happen suddenly in the movie. Nor is there a montage depicting the budding friendship.
Ryan Gosling plays Dan Dunne, a history teacher in a junior high. For the most part Mr. Dunne is a good teacher. He tries to inspire his students to see value in learning history and tries to make it interesting. He also coaches the basketball team with enough conviction. But he also likes to spend his evenings snorting coke.
One of his students finds him passed out in the bathroom and from there gradually starts a friendship of sorts. How the friendship affects both of them is the true plot of the movie.
The movie absolutely belongs to Ryan Gosling. In an Oscar-worthy performance Gosling portrays the various dimensions of this character to a T. Whether it is the coke/alcohol induced rant about present-day politics or the patient approach to explaining history or the slacked out mode of a cokehead, Gosling does all of it in an effortless manner.
My Rating - 4/5
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Watching the blazing sands of time slip away
The scorching winds of sorrow burn my skin
Consuming me in a pyre of loneliness
The canteen of friendship is running dry
Memories of past lands still linger on
The allure of an Oasis still drags me on
But alas it's just a mirage
The mind yearns to say a million words
But the dryness of my throat sucks them in
The heart longs to cry out aloud
But even tears have dried up within.
Why am I all alone
Wandering this ghastly land
Maybe I am just a proverbial outcast
In the prosperous Republic of Love
Maybe I am destined to walk all alone
Without an reassuring hand in mine
Maybe someone up above looked at me and said
"All alone but he will be fine"
So far and few in between
But life's promises keep coming
Whenever hope feels like a distant dream.
When I stepped out of school
The promise of the fun and joy of college life
Held its arms wide open
With a whole new world for this school kid
Then came the life in a professional course
Promising excitement and challenges all the way
Internals and exams, all of that passed by
So did the fights and the easy life
Now the promise of a bright career is made
But life seems dull and lonely already
And hope seems like a fading dream,
But life's promises keep coming...
Far from the place I call home
Away from the shade of my parents' love
My friends' laughter too seems so far away
The times I rested my head on my mother's lap
Seems so so long ago..
The taste of the simple food she makes
Is also starting to fade away
Fear of my dad when I was young
And the rebellious ways of adolscence
All were just a few years ago
But now seems as if ages have passed
The smiles,the quarrels and the bad fights
The fun and laughter with my friends
The sharing of the good times and the bad uns'
Feels like decades ago
My home is where I long to be
My parents is whom I long to be with
My friends are the ones to share my life with
But...most things are easier said than done