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The Academy Listened
After panning last years Academy Awards program, I was quite pleased with this year's efforts on a number of levels. Hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco were a refreshing duo after last years debacle. I felt that it was a mistake last year to have co-hosts but Anne and James gave it their best and succeeded in every respect. I guess you have to have the right co-hosts. The writing was also crisper and there were no lame insulting jokes which, last year, only made the audience and viewers cringe and feel uncomfortable and left a bitter aftertaste. I apologize for comparing this year to last year's but can't help it because this year's show let's us all know how enjoyable and fun the program can be in the right hands. It appears as if The Academy listened to the critics from last year's program and made several changes which only enhanced this year's program.
The Memorial was especially touching and respectful this year and I was pleased to see that a perfect song was added and that, for the first time, the audience showed respect by not clapping at familiar names. I would love to know if, during the break or in written communications, the audience was told to not applaud or if they held the applause because Celine Dion was singing. In any event, it was about time. I agree with other reviewers that a few notable names were omitted.
I liked the tasteful homage to some of the old films, performers and hosts. Think that should be a staple of the Oscars. Good form to have Sandra Bullock, the highlight of last year's show, present the Best Actor award. I am also glad that the program did not try to do something weird with the best film scores and just showed how they sounded in and impacted the films.
I gave this year's Academy Awards an "8" and would have given it a higher rating except the sound mixing was messed up on the music, at least on my home theater system - not sure if that was due to editing a certain comment earlier. I also missed the thumbnail descriptions of the documentaries and international films. Can't recall if they were included last year.
All in all, though, this year's program was a noble effort and breezy show which only tended to enhance the suspense of the awards presentation.
What Were They Thinking?
This has to have been the most boring Oscar show that I have ever seen and the least funny hosts that I can recall. It speaks volumes when Sandra Bullock's five minute acceptance speech got more laughs than everything before it. I hope that I am not becoming a stuff shirt but I don't recall finding hardly anything else funny and thought that the Jewish jokes were very poor taste to say the least.
I hope that, whoever presents the Oscars next year will make major changes next year, among them getting rid of the writers for this year's show and whoever thought of the improvisational dance and lack of set design that had no relation to the themes that were being played by the orchestra. Another major change would be a return to the solitary host but allow the host to improvise a little, albeit within some basic guidelines so, if the show does drag, at least it will not be as painfully boring. Some of the presenters should also be able to say non-scripted tidbits within the same guidelines. Even if many of the awards would be predictable, at least the element of surprise would be alive in the presentation.
My score - 3 - would have been lower without Sandra Bullock saving the day.
Guru Mahaaguru (2001)
What a Waste of Talent
I purchased and invested two hours of my time and made this film the first Bollywood film to watch in almost two weeks and was thoroughly disappointed. I still have no idea how so many IMDb viewers could give this drivel a 10. It makes me wonder if I am going to have similar experiences with other highly rated IMDb Bollywood films.
As much as I love most of Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah's work, they were really slumming on this one. The rest of the cast was OK. Watch Maqbool if you want to see them in a much better vehicle together. The story was disjointed, predictable, frequently lost it's way and the ending seemed almost tacked on. The comedy attempts were lame and only seemed to drag the film along more. The music was nothing to write home about with the best two songs being rip offs of great songs from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Kureukshetra and not nearly as good. I also cringed every time the cheesy cutesy music came on when a character was unsuccessfully trying to do or say something funny. Car chases were overdone, beyond over the top and completely improbable. The fight/action scenes, and there were many of them, were so bad they were comical although they tended to get boring after a while. They were bad even by Bollywood standards. The actors seemed to just go through the motions and there was little effort to make them seem even a little realistic. It was hard to believe that this film came out in 2001 because everything about it looked so dated. Guess I should have written this review before I voted because a "4" was being very generous.
Beautiful film that needs a little oomph.
I agree with another comment about Sonali Bendre giving a terrific performance and she was ably supported by the head maid played by Deepli Naval. I was not equally impressed by some of the men who gave somewhat stilted performances. The king annoyed the daylights out of me.
Back to the story, though. At times, I felt that the Viagra plug would come at any moment and it was sooooooo slow and talky and this was a relatively short Indian film that could have been trimmed even more. Everything was repetitive - the dialog, scenes, and music. At times, it reminded me of some of the scenes from Wagner's Ring Cycle. I like most Indian music but Indian Classical Music is pretty much hit or miss for me and I feel that it's use in this film will irritate people not used to it. I wish they would have varied it a little more and had some additional instrumentation.
The last twenty to thirty minutes of Eternity (does the title have anything to do with taking an Eternity to get anywhere?)almost makes up for the first hour or so, especially some of the great dialog between the women and one line in particular. Photography, sets, sound, and costumes were all flawless. It would have been nice to have a song or two in the background, especially as the queen is leaving the palace.
Boring - Great for insomniacs.
Aavishkar has done something that no other Bollywood film has ever been able to do -- put me to sleep. I will be totally honest - after forcing myself to watch the first 50 minutes of 90, I could not take it any more and could not care how the film ended. I knew enough that I could not get that 50 minutes back. Rajesh Khanna won a best actor award for this film but I would hate to see the competition. It seemed like he sleep walked through most of it and was literally in bed, half asleep, had headaches and irritable except when he remember how happy he was during the first year of his marriage. This film was supposed to be "artsy." Meybe whoever put it together should have gone back to the drawing board.
Haunting film but would love to have been able to understand the lyrics.
I was completely mesmerized by Lekin and especially by the castle and Dimple's haunting character who took over the screen whenever she materialized. It brought back memories of Ugetsu, one of my favorite Japanese films. The photography, the music, story, acting was all top notch and I am definitely going to have to see what else Gulzar did. The desert, itself, was as much a character as any of the actors.
I would have given Lekin a 10 but, since I do not know Hindi, I have to rely on subtitles and, periodically, the subtitles were a little hard to follow unless you are a speed reader. Also, my biggest gripe with a lot of great Hindi films is that they do not include the subtitles to the songs which was the case on my DVD. I was unable to see for myself why Gulzar won two awards for best lyrics that year. It was also frustrating because, when Dimple's character sang, I am almost certain that knowing the lyrics would have only added to the enjoyment of the film. I still gave Lekin a 9 but if anyone can tell me where I can easily find the lyrics, I would be very grateful.
Trade Offs (2003)
Wish I saw what everyone else saw.
After 20 minutes through the film, I had to stop it, go to the computer, go to IMDB and find out why I bought this dvd. After reading again what everybody said, I decided to see if it would get any better. Trade Offs did get a little better but only because of the great performance of Deypika Singh. Unfortunately she was so good that she made everyone else pale by comparison which was not all that hard to do. The acting was either inconsistent or reminded me of some of the almost laughable stuff that is on late night cable. The story was OK but seemed to be missing something that I could not put my finger on. This film looks and feels low budget. Photography was nothing to write home about and you would hope that the director could have gotten more out of his ensemble unless that is the best he could get. I liked the music which sounds even better on the cd but, at the beginning of the film, the music was so loud that you can barely hear the dialogue and it is not in a night club. Because of all the above, I had to give the film a 5/10 which is one of the lowest scores I have given. Without Deypika Singh, the score would have been a lot lower.
Strong dramatic performances weakened by inept comedians(?), over the top writing, and implausable ending.
I totally agree with the reviewer who said that this is Madhuri's film. I only wish she could have had even more scenes, a better script, and been more involved in the climax. Her performance and the performances of all the dramatic stars caused me to give the film a 7 instead of a 5. Anil Kapoor did his best in a thankless role where, at times, he is extremely immature and a big momma's boy. His character was frequently tedious. The comedy(?) was grating and frequently brought the tension and story to a complete halt. Do the masses really like this kind of stuff? INDIRECT SPOILER. The ending was both implausible and unoriginal and left me shaking my head wondering what really happened.
Music and photography were all top notch, especially some great shots of Madhuri by herself and with Anil.
Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (1993)
Very silly at first but gets better and grows on you.
I was not sure if I would like this film because it was so silly and overacted at first by just about everyone except Aamir Khan. But, the more the film progressed, the more the storyline hooked me and the characters settled into their roles, although it was still a little too silly for my tastes. I could not believe that Filmfare gave HHRPK their best film award and Juhi Chawla the best actress for 1994 because I did not think it was that good unless there was not that much competition that year. I like Juhi's performances in most films and felt she did OK here but, since she was made to overact so much and act so immature, I frequently tired of seeing a grown woman act like a small child.
I hope that I am not being too negative because, if the viewer can handle the first 15-20 minutes, they will be in for a very pleasant ride and a few laughs along the way. It is just not a film for everyone, especially newcomers to Bollywood films.
Hu Tu Tu (1999)
Good film that would have been enhanced if the songs had subtitles.
Hu Tu Tu is definitely worth a watch since it a good story and great acting from the entire ensemble. I was especially impressed with Tabu, Sunil Shetty, Nana Patekar, and Shivali Satham.
The story is about corruption in politics, how it divides families, hurts the little people and runs roughshod over anyone who gets in their way. It also tries to explain how individuals can be driven to horrendous acts and is quite shocking in spots. (INDIRECT SPOILER) One of those shocking acts had to do with the delivery of a message to tell a major politician that her daughter was kidnapped. Because the messenger was an innocent villager, it somewhat contradicted what the kidnappers were trying to accomplish and the message of the person they were trying to save and was one of the reasons for me to only give this film a 7 instead of a 9 which it could have very easily received.
Two other issues also lessened my enjoyment of the film. As much as I like Lata Mangeshkar, I feel that there are some roles where someone else should be the back-up singer and her voice was not even remotely close to Tabu's, especially from an age stand-point. Her voice sounds much older than the character.
My second issue and major pet peeve with Eros DVDs is that most of the DVDs, Hu Tu Tu included, do not include subtitles with the songs. It seems as if they feel that the lyrics are not important to the song or the film. In Hu Tu Tu, though, I feel that the lyrics and songs probably moved the story along, especially the songs with Nana Patekar. You could tell by what was going on in the song, that it was important but, without the subtitles, you can only guess. It is very frustrating and each time this happens, I wonder what the company who added the subtitles were thinking if they were thinking at all.