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Archive for February 23rd, 2009

The amazing Indian music maestro AR Rahman created history by becoming the first Indian to garb two Oscar glories for his creativity in British filmmaker Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. AR Rahman received the first Oscar honour for the best original score in the movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. He shared the second Oscar award for best original song for the film’s theme number ‘Jai Ho’ with noted Indian lyricist Gulzar.

After receiving the coveted academy awards at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, Rahman got overwhelmed and delivered his speech in both Hindi and Tamil. He glorified the role of his mother in his success who was also present to witness the momentous occasion. He also thanked the Almighty and walked off the red carpet with pride. After the second Oscar bestowed on Rahman, the music maestro said that he reach the zenith of success because he choose to spread love instead of hatred.

Earlier, AR Rahman had won the prestigious Golden Globe Award for his original score in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Besides it, Rahman also bagged several laurels for his work in the globally acclaimed film which deals with rags-to-riches tale of a Mumbai slum dweller. The original score composed by Rahman for the film adds extra gory to it. The theme song ‘Jai Ho’ elevates the music maestro as the best in his field of work. The entire country is in the mood of celebration as Rahman fulfilled India’s dream of Oscars.


It’s surprising, twenty-five years later, how well Runaway has aged. Not because it is anything close to prescient in its vision of the future, or because it is so well-executed technically that it stands ahead of its contemporaries. Instead, Michael Crichton’s movie about cops chasing robots run amok holds up is because, despite its low-fi trappings, it manages to put together a world the audience can believe in.

Sgt. Jack Ramsay (Tom Selleck) is a Chicago Police Department officer assigned to handling robots. It’s not glamorous work, more like animal control than anything else, but he’s gotten to be the best in the department at it. He and new partner Karen Thompson (Cynthia Rhodes) are called in to deal with a malfunctioning domestic robot, and an extra chip inside leads them to Dr. Charles Luther (Gene Simmons) and Jackie Rogers (Kirstie Alley), who may have the answers behind a rash of robot-related incidents.

Michael Crichton writes and directs, and he makes the choice of not setting the film too far in the future (as seen from 1984). Cars, hairstyles, clothing, etc., are thus all from the mid-eighties, rather than anything particularly futuristic (which generally means, the current time period only more so!); Ramsay mentions that one of the older robots they corral is still running on an 8088-series processor (the kind the then-current IBM PCs used; the IBM PC AT with its 80286 chip had just been introduced). Give Chrichton credit for not having robotics technology make the immediate leap to self-aware androids, but the robots themselves do often look cobbled-together, not so much like a mass-produced product.

That’s the big problem with Runaway: Even for 1984, it looks cheap. Crichton’s got good ideas, but the execution is kind of shoddy, and not just in special effects. Crichton piles a cute kid, two potential love interests, guilt over a dead hostage, and crippling vertigo onto Ramsay. It’s a bit much at times, even though it’s seldom overwhelming.

Part of that’s because Tom Selleck is good at selling it; it’s surprising he never had much of a career outside of Magnum, P.I., because he does a fine job of making the unreal or potentially trite believable. Gene Simmons is suitably crazed as the villain. Cynthia Rhodes is likable enough as Selleck’s partner, though Kirstie Alley is kind of annoying as the woman they recruit to help bring down Simmons.

Despite all its faults, Runaway holds together. It shouldn’t; it should seem incredibly dated and tacky. Instead, it has a sort of understated charm.

Some bad movies are interesting to watch as a sort of game – where, exactly, did things go wrong? After all, very few people set out to create a movie that stinks; it’s just the unfortunate end result. Chrysalis is not one of those; things were too obviously doomed from the start, when filmmaker Tony Baez Milan decided to adapt a Ray Bradbury short story and decided that a movie whose main subject just sits there would be terribly engrossing.

It’s one of those futures where the environment is wrecked and the consolidated nations of the world are engaged in a war of attrition. Dr. Hartley (John Klemantaski) is doing plant research in an underground bunker, assisted by McGuire (Corey Landis) and Smith (Glen Vaughan). Smith is close to cracking up when one day he collapses, and the others find a green growth on him. It eventually envelops him, becoming a hard shell, and Hartley reluctantly calls hospital colleague Rockwell (Darren Kendrick) and Rockwell’s assistant Murphy (Danny Cameron) in. Mondragon (Larry Dirk), a gung-ho military type, also interjects himself as the scientists try to answer the question of what’s going on with Smith and what should be done with him?

The large and obvious problem with this set-up is that it’s not very conducive to things actually happening. The middle of the movie is what seems like an hour of people standing around Smith, re-iterating that they really don’t know what’s going on. Hartley becomes more paranoid and hostile, frightened of what will emerge from Smith’s chrysalis. Rockwell becomes obsessed with the apparent healing properties of a fluid he has extracted from it. McGuire and Murphy stand around rather interchangeably, and Mondragon wanders off when he realizes that he really doesn’t have anything to do. The scientists “debate”, if by that you mean exchanging wild hypotheses based on the scant information they have. There’s news footage of the outside world that is utterly irrelevant to the story in the bunker.

That’s just one way the filmmakers try to stretch the story out, by the way – it has some of the slowest fade-outs and fade-ins I’ve ever seen. Of course, given the environment I saw it in, I was thankful for that, as the festival/marathon crowd would cheer with each fade out, only to make a collective groan of disappointment when the movie failed to end. You make your own fun in these situations.

There is, after all, precious little of it to be had elsewhere. Chrysalis isn’t even entertainingly awful; the cast is bland but not generally inept. The make-up effects for the chrysalis actually look kind of good, and as cheap as everything looks, it’s not the kind of cheap where you can see shoddy workmanship. The ending is terrible – it’s not quite out of nowhere, but it’s also not something that’s been set up beyond the wild theorizing. The movie doesn’t end the way it does because of any particular actions of the characters or any outside force that has any meaning to us.

So, even when something big happens, it feels like nothing has happened. You can get away with that in a short story (and I suspect that Bradbury’s original story was very short indeed), but in an 85-minute film, it’s a form of torture.

List of 2009 Oscar Award Winners

* Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire
* Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
* Best Actor: Sean Penn, Milk
* Best Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader
* Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
* Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
* Best Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, Milk
* Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
* Best Original Song: A.R. Rahman and Gulzar — Jai Ho, Slumdog Millionaire
* Best Original Score: A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
* Best Animated Feature: Wall-E
* Best Foreign Language Film: Departures
* Best Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
* Best Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire
* Best Costume Design: Michael O’Connor , The Duchess
* Best Feature Documentary: James Marsh and Simon Chinn, Man on a Wire
* Best Short Documentary: Megan Mylan, Smile Pinki
* Best Editing: Chris Dickens, Slumdog Millionaire
* Best Makeup: Greg Cannom, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
* Best Animated Short: La Maison en Petits Cubes
* Best Live-Action Short: Jochen Alexander Freydank, Spielzeugland (Toyland)
* Best Sound Editing: Richard King, The Dark Knight
* Best Sound Mixing: Ian Tapp, Resul Pookutty and Richard Pryke, Slumdog Millionaire
* Best Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

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