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Movie Roundup: 15/03/2010 March 15, 2010

Posted by Shujath in Articles, English, Movies, Reviews.
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After The Hurt Locker trumped Avatar at the Oscars, quite a few people celebrated its win as a triumph of substance over style. I don’t quite get it – The Hurt Locker has been acclaimed as the best drama about the Iraq war but I actually thought Avatar had a lot more things to say about “war”. For me The Hurt Locker was just a gritty thriller set around the activities of bomb defusing squads – a group you generally don’t encounter in a “war film”. If the film actually tried to say something about the war – it just didn’t get through to me.

The movie begins with a quote “War is a Drug” which is supposed to be the underlying thought of the whole enterprise – yet the tone of the movie comes across as being so blatantly pro-war. Even with the most generous interpretations, I couldn’t really figure out what the film was trying to convey and that’s why I can’t think of it beyond a “gritty thriller”. Do check it out – for it’s a film which is so open to interpretation that it could mean something completely opposite to what I expressed – and isn’t that exactly why it has received so many accolades!

Talking about the Oscars, until a couple of weeks back I wouldn’t have imagined any other film except ‘Up‘ (though I admit I haven’t seen a few of the other acclaimed films in the list) taking home the award for the Best Animated Feature – also given the fact that it was nominated for Best Picture too! Yet, once I saw Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, it was impossible for me to choose one. The film works purely because Anderson’s quirkiness translates so well to an animated-film setting. No doubt Pixar’s films work for adults but I wonder if Fantastic Mr. Fox would hold appeal for anyone else except adults – and no…. it isn’t because it has risque jokes or anything like that. Don’t miss this if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s unfortunate that the film grossed a measly 20 million despite the overall acclaim.

Up [3-D] June 11, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Pixar have a winner on their hands yet again. Up is a magical film that appeals to both kids and adults, moreso the latter category.

Up is the story of Carl Fredricksen, a 78 year old balloon seller who has dreamt of taking part in a great adventure all his life, along with his wife Ellie. Following her death he becomes a recluse. When a situation threatens to leave him without his house, he decides to float away in it using an array of balloons. In the process, he inadvertently takes aboard a stowaway. Together, the odd couple embark on an unforgettable adventure to Paradise Falls.

As is usually the case with Pixar, this is a tale that might not sound very enticing when you look at a trailer or read a plot synopsis. However, director Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc.) and screenwriter Bob Peterson (Finding Nemo) ensure that the experience is enchanting.

There are so many beautiful moments in this film. The best of them being the montage featuring the life of Carl and Ellie. Such a beautiful piece told in a simple but elegant manner and set to a wonderful theme composed by Michael Giacchino (Ratatouille, Star Trek, Speed Racer). It makes you wonder how most romcoms and family films fail to capture us in this manner. Are these genres that the best filmmakers avoid? Is there a bankruptcy of ideas? Are studios settling for formula fare even when there is scope to do better?

The beautiful landscapes in the film are unlike anything that I’ve encountered before in an animated film and the 3-D version enhances the viewing pleasure. The fact that I haven’t seen too many 3-D films also makes it more fun to watch it in that format but the experience of the film should be just as good in 2-D.

Interestingly, there are no shock-for-amusement in-your-face gimmicks just because this is a 3-D film. The makers ensure that you are not distracted by such gimmicks, which by now have become boring, and manage to keep you absorbed in the film. This is a welcome change.

As is the case with Pixar’s previous work, this is a must watch film even for those who are not particularly enticed by the thought of watching an animated film or a family film. This film will appeal to all categories of viewers, especially those who are tired of talking animals. Highly recommended!

P.S. Partly Cloudy, directed by Peter Sohn, is the short film preceding Up. It has a novel plot and is executed well but doesn’t measure up to its recent predecessors.