Ebert is a four letter word !

This post is in response to Roger Ebert's piece on movie critics and movie criticism. The article can be read here.

Roger Ebert is considered one of the most prolific movie critics of all time and in my opinion, that statement stands as the biggest oxymoron I have come across in my life. I occasionally read his reviews, especially to get his opinion on certain movies that I found delightful, and have found myself at times sharing the same opinion and sometimes contradicting his view completely. With this premise I venture into response to Ebert's piece on movie criticism and the clear undertones of high-handedness in his writing, a quintessential quality of a critic that conditions him/her to behave the way they do. 

Ebert cleverly chooses to play the devils advocate of his profession and starts off by stating all the typical invective thrown at critics and their job. He even makes a gracious mention of a quote that I have come to appreciate from the movie Ratatouille. It goes : "In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends... Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere."

Without divulging or digressing into the situations that preceded this quote in the movie, I wish to have the readers attention on the importance of the quote! "in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so." While Ebert nonchalantly rubbishes this by claiming that junk movies are only successful in conditioning the audience's mind to watch more junk movies, he conveniently fails to focus on the grand scheme of things. Movie criticism is a high paying job for Mr Ebert and he makes his living from a cinema hall. The grand scheme of things could well mean defending his reviews and criticism but to many others, it values differently.

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Oscar Invisibles

Staying with the Oscar fever this week, we have a simple quiz for our readers. The quiz images are courtesy filmwise.

The images have the characters turned invisible and you have the simple task of identifying the movie the following images are from. In tune with the theme, all the movies are either Oscar winners or Oscar nominated flicks.

It's a sitter fellas!

All things sweet
All is not well in this land?

Greatest movie intro?

Comment with your answers and if you thought this was a sitter quiz, click agree at the bottom of this article. :P


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Could you double-check the envelope please?

The 82nd Annual Academy awards are around the corner and we will witness yet another page in cinema history take a glamorous turn. Take the best of world cinema over the year gone by, have a gallery of movie veterans judge them and give the world something to cherish for another year. This is the Oscars story that has lived on for decades and has stood as the single most awaited awards ceremony in the calendar. The desire to claim the golden statuette drives a lot of artists in the film fraternity and while some are blessed with it after one tremendous performance, many have come a long way to win the coveted prize and the name that first comes to mind when one thinks of the latter is the director Martin Scorsese.

"Could you double-check the envelope please?", this was the rhetoric that Scorsese gave the world as he picked his first Oscar for The Departed in 2006. Having been nominated 5 times before, the 67 year old director from NYC is a classic example of making cinema for cinema's sake and nothing more. One look at the director's record of movies and its global reception and we are swiftly reminded of audiences and critics who have showered more praise and honor on him than the belated Oscar. So I guess the question I am asking myself is, if I look back at Scorsese's career and his cinematic achievements, should Oscar glory really mean much to him or any other artist of the film fraternity?

Now a 23 year old, my fascination with Marty's movies began with his 1976 classic Taxi Driver. Straight after the success of Mean streets, Taxi Driver established Scorsese as a prolific film maker who brought European influences to Hollywood and renewed the film noir. Contemporary cinema during the 70's saw the likes of Brian De Palma, George Lucas and Martin Scorsese who enjoyed a sense of freedom in film making. That freedom was translated into great story telling for Scorsese. Teaming up with Paul Schrader as the movie's writer and Robert De Niro (who would become Scorsese's life long friend and screen muse), Taxi Driver was beaten at the Oscars in that year by the insufferable underdog classic Rocky. An interesting observation that was made on the difference in film making of the then directors from the West coast like Spielberg and Lucas and in Scorsese's East coast movies was the assertiveness and confidence that Scorsese possessed in giving his audiences what he felt like giving while Lucas and Spielberg were more careful yet experimental in trying to understand what the audience wanted and then giving it to them. This difference sometimes stands out for me as to why the Oscars ignored his earlier classics.

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Oscar Road: Best Picture Also Rans

The Oscars are nigh. In around 5 days they shall be given out. There are plenty of awards to be given away but the most prestigious one is for the best picture and for no small reason too. In retrospect, the academy awards for each year are marked and called with the picture which won. Like 2008 was the year of No Country for Old Men and 2007 was the year for Departed regardless of what other pictures were made that year.

But in this article I shall talk about those which are definitely not going to take the nameplate. It would be a titanic surprise if they do! This is the round of the most definite also rans!

The Blind Side
It is a heart warming story of human kindness told really well. Made out of a real life story from the South(ern America) with some of an extremely poor
African American teenager whose life changes radically after he is taken in by a wealthy white family. Unlike other such movies it doesn’t try to cash in entirely on the emotional quotient but yet makes a strong impact by getting the story telling elements perfectly right.

The performances in this movie just like the setup are natural and restrained. Everything and everyone just seems so right. Never would have I pictured Sandra Bullock in such a strong role. But she pulled it off really well playing a fine Christian woman from the South (Where the women of the family are generally strong willed and righteous). This role is similar to the stubborn boss she plays in her other movie of the year, The Proposal, but only much more central and powerful. Other than the every fantastic Meryl Streep who played Julia Child in Julie and Julia, she doesn’t have much competition for the Best Actress Oscar.

Overall it is a must see movie, something which will moisten your eyes with happiness.

Very Good

As I had tweet reviewed it sometime back , An Education is a bildungsroman of an intelligent teenage british girl in the mid 60’s. Carey Mulligan who gives a fine lead performance saves this movie from being lost in a pile of hundreds of such other movies. It is about a young girl finding interesting company and yearning to get out of her stale life due to the vastly exhiliarating and educating experiences she has in the brief getaways. We know where these kinda movies head and this one is no different. It also has a strong undercurrent of the purpose of woman’s education and the attitude of the parents and society when she has found the right match.

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