Category Archives: slumdog millionaire

Enthiran – The Robot

Enthiran – The Robot ~ This is a film whose reputation precedes it. Called the Avatar of its country, reputedly this is the most expensive film made to date in India, and also its highest grossing film. Not strictly a Bollywood film, but more accurately a ‘Kollywood’ film as it was made in Tamil Nadu, it is s work of science fiction, but as with all Indian films, it is truly a creature of mixed genre.

Also known as Robot, and Robo, and Enthiran, and a dozen other titles and spelling variations worldwide, this is roughly a Frankenstein story – a scientist makes a man in his own image, scarily Elvis-like, which tries to be human but eventually is looked upon as monster. The Robot, Chitti, is played by award winning veteran Indian actor Rajinikanth, who also plays his creator. His deadpan performance as the Robot is both fearsome and hilarious.

Written and directed by Shankar Shanmugam, or simply Shankar, the film has changed the way the world views Indian science fiction. And as the film is called the Avatar of India, similarly Shankar is called its James Cameron. No doubt he is one of their greatest visionaries.

The music is by A.R. Rahman, who also did the music for Slumdog Millionaire, Couples Retreat, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and dozens of Indian movies, among others – but this soundtrack was a worldwide instant blockbuster. That’s the popularity power of this flick.

The real star here is the special effects. CGI and animatronics from a company called Legacy Effects, the brain child of special effects wizard Stan Winston. From the robotics that make up our hero to the evil robot rampage to the outrageous cartoonish but reality based feats later in the film, as the evil robot fights everyone, and of course, the climax, the effects are king. More cars and guns than you have perhaps ever seen on the screen. Mind boggling. Matrix and Terminator, step aside.

This movie has everything. Adventure, romance, comedy, musical sequences, violence – both cartoonish and realistic (lots of gunplay and a very scary and racially offensive attempted rape scene, so it’s not for the kids), it’s all here. In many ways it’s a superhero movie sans costumes. This three hour long Tamil science fiction masterpiece, like Avatar, must be experienced at least once. Recommended.

Life of Pi

Life of Pi ~ Well, it may not be the live action version of Calvin and Hobbes, but the moral of the story is Don’t move to Canada.

I saw Life of Pi the day after I saw Skyfall, marking not only a return for me to seeing movies in theaters after a while, but also seeing two visually stunning films back to back. The visuals are amazing. This is notably the first film I have seen in 2D, that was available in 3D, that I have regretted not seeing in 3D. I spent a good amount of time saying, “Wow, that would have been incredible in 3D.”

Told in flashback, in the framing sequence of a man telling a writer of a life-changing event he experienced as a younger man, Life of Pi is about perception. Pi’s family, who owns a zoo in India, decides to move to Canada, with the animals, via a shady Japanese freighter. Shipwrecked, Pi finds himself alone with a tiger on a lifeboat at sea for months. His survival is at the core of the tale, and director Ang Lee makes it all worthwhile with this incredible piece of eye candy.

There’s a kicker at the end, that in the film disappointed me, but had I read the book the movie is based on, I might have hurled it across the room. Yeah, it’s like that. Good thing I didn’t read the book, I’m sure it would have infuriated me. It is the stunning visuals in the film that talk my anger in off the ledge.

Young Pi, played by Suraj Sharma, is fantastic in a role using primarily gestures and facial expressions – and acting for the most part alone, with and against a completely CGI tiger. Yeah, that blew me away. There’s no tiger, it’s all CGI. But that tiger is a hell of an actor too. The adult Pi is played by one of my favorite Indian actors, Irrfan Khan, who folks might know from The Amazing Spider-Man or Slumdog Millionaire, but who I loved in HBO’s “In Treatment.” His performance is both solid and subtlety brilliant.

Life of Pi must be seen, preferably on the big screen, and preferably in 3D. This film will be in contention for several Oscars this year. See it.

And oh yeah, don’t move to Canada, or at least not the way Pi did.

Oscar Nominations 2009

Yep, that time of year again. At approximately 5:30 this morning, every movie geek in the world was at their computers or glued to their TVs to see what the Motion Picture Academy selected as the best for the year 2008. I was too, but afterward I went back to bed. Yep, I was that impressed.

Here’s what we’re stuck with this time around:

Best actor: Richard Jenkins, Frank Langella, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt and Mickey Rourke

Best supporting actor: Josh Brolin, Robert Downey Jr., Philip Seymour Hoffman, Heath Ledger and Michael Shannon

Best actress: Anne Hathaway, Angelina Jolie, Melissa Leo, Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet

Best supporting actress: Amy Adams, Penélope Cruz, Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson and Marisa Tomei

Best director: David Fincher, Ron Howard, Gus Van Sant, Stephen Daldry and Danny Boyle

Best film: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader and Slumdog Millionaire

The rest of the noms can be found here.

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My early picks and guesses…

Mickey Roarke is back in Hollywood’s good graces and will take actor for The Wrestler. For supporting actor, it’s Philip Seymour Hoffman by elimination. Downey was terrific but just far too politically incorrect for the Academy, and he was also in that superhero movie, as was the late Heath Ledger. Frank Miller put superhero movies back in the ghetto with his ‘interpretation of The Spirit so there’s no way a comic book movie can ever win.

Best actress should go to Kate Winslet, but for Revolutionary Road rather than The Reader. And I think the magic of The Wrestler will help Marisa Tomei get her second Oscar – this one legit. 😉

I believe that Slumdog Millionaire will take both best picture and director as well for Danny Boyle, as well as for score and song. I’m guessing Waltz with Bashir for best foreign film and Wall-E for best animated.

Also I need answers when it comes to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as I haven’t seen it. Did anyone like it? Do you know anyone who liked it? Heck, has anyone even read a good review of it? I’m puzzled by this one.