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Assuming you have already watched this Academy award-winning masterpiece, read further to unravel not-so-subtle imagery of class hierarchy in modern society.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

It is not easy to describe or critique a movie like Parasite. It is a satirical, drama-thriller. Like its father, Bong Joon-ho, the movie is highly dynamic as it changes tones like a girl changes clothes (Hot N Cold reference). Bong creates a tapestry depicting class hierarchy via his craft of interweaving various subtle as well as not-so-subtle threads.

The movie opens with the Kim family son, Ki-woo, walking around their tiny house in search of Wi-Fi connection. The toilet happens to be the highest point in the house apparently giving him the connection to a network that probably isn’t password-protected, basically leeching off some neighbour. Evidently, the parasitical attributes of the family are established very early in the film. We also see how the family lives in a semi-basement. Semi-basement means that the house is also semi-over ground essentially giving the family a sense of hope as well.

A little further into the movie we see the Park family house located on some sort of a hilltop. Later we also learn how Moon-gwang and Geun-sae live in an even lower basement in the Park house. Bong uses this element of “upstairs and downstairs” to establish the positions of these families in the class hierarchies. The same concept is used in multiple ways further in the film.

Watching the movie, you realise that this isn’t just a fight between two families from different social backgrounds, but also between two families from the same background. Instead of coexistence, the idea of “survival of the fittest” is somewhat adopted. Eventually, after all the ruckus and drama, the Kim family manages to put Geun-sae and Moon-gwang back to where they really “belong”- the lowest basement.

Right after this we also see the Kim family hiding under the living room table as soon as they hear the owners of the house return; just like how cockroaches hide under small spaces in fear of getting caught and killed. As soon as the family seems to be asleep, they run and escape at their first chance, back to their original “hole”.

Water happens to play a rather significant role throughout the film. Initially, we see a man urinating outside the Kims’ window. They try to fight him away by throwing water at him, which only turns everything messier. Later in the movie, we see how the Kim basement is flooded with sewage water after heavy rainfall. Clearly, water hasn’t been their best friend after all. The flooded basement also gives a push to a domino effect which is to follow.

When the family is called back to work the next day, which is a weekend, a blatant tension can be sensed, best expressed by Ki-taek (Kang-Ho Song). While Ki-taek is driving Yeon-kyo back home from the market, we see her talk to a friend on a call about how the rain had been a blessing clearing up the sky of pollution. We learn how the rain has different effects on people from different classes. While it dragged one family out of their house, it pulled back another from a camping trip, only to appreciate the house more.

The movie reaches its climax when Gyun-sae manages to set himself free and runs up to attack, first Ki-woo, and next his sister Ki-jung. When Ki-taek kills Gyun-sae and tries to save his daughter, Park Dong-ik just asks him to abandon his own family and drive them away. This simply shows how little he cared about the “lower” class family, yet again creating a class division.

Out of frustration, killing Dong-ik, Ki-taek hides in the very place he wished to escape- the lowest basement. He became what he was trying to get rid of. The Park family left the house giving way to yet another rich German family to take their place. No matter what, a richer family will always be above Ki-taek, leaving him to remain a mere parasite.

With Ki-jung dead, Ki-woo and Chung-sook return to their original places in the semi-basement. When Ki-woo decodes a message from his father, he pledges to work hard his entire life until he is able to buy the house, and then all Ki-taek needs to do is “walk upstairs”. We even see the family reuniting, but Bong shoots his final bullet as a sure-fire, bringing Ki-woo back in his home to let his audience know that life isn’t so convenient, and his aspirations can never really turn to reality. This again reflects a very realistic image.

Why Parasite is adored throughout the world is because this same plot which is set in South Korea could have been set in New York or London or even New Delhi. Class division is a universal concept and affects each one of us in one way or the other.

 

Feature Image Credit: CJ Entertainment

Aditi Gutgutia

[email protected]

We evaluate the history of Asian movies at the Academy Awards, and how over the years inherent racism has painted the award culture.

“When I tell you that every single Asian person backstage at the SAG Awards just had the same emotional look on their face when the PARASITE team… even people who had nothing to do with the movie…”, Jen Yamato, an Los Angeles Times Reporter tweeted when the cast of Parasite won Best Ensemble at the 26th Screen Actor Guild (SAG) Awards, held on January 19, 2020.

Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite became the first South Korean movie to be nominated for Oscars in the categories of Best Picture and Best International Feature Film. Rounding out Parasite‘s six total nominations were nods for Directing, Film Editing, and Production Design. Despite the film’s memorable performances—from Song Kang Ho’s palpable tension as he sweats and hides beneath a coffee table to Park So Dam’s quick, sharp wit—acknowledgments in acting categories were pointedly missing. This bias is a continuing phenomenon, from 1987’s Last Emperor (9 nominations) to 2000’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (10) to 2005’s Memoirs of a Geisha (six) to 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire (10) and 2012’s Life of Pi (11).

Media studies scholars told VICE, “the reasons behind this lack of recognition are multi-layered. With pop culture reflecting society at large, Asian actors face more than just industry issues. Beyond the general lack of distribution of Asian films, the difficulty Asian actors face in breaking into Hollywood’s mainstream, and the Academy’s mostly-white demographics, Asians in Hollywood must also go up against the racial stereotypes and biases of American society, which inform the way viewers perceive their performances. When it comes to judging the work of Asian actors, the white American mainstream has historically been clouded by bias.”

However, in a year that could have been a major leap forward in representation at the Oscars, performers of Asian descent were overlooked in all of the acting categories. Notably, Awkwafina was not among the nominees for Best Actress, despite rave reviews for her performance in The Farewell. The snubs for The Farewell also include Lulu Wang, who wrote and directed the film and was overlooked in the Best Director and Best Original Screenplay categories. . The only time a woman of Asian descent has been nominated for Best Actress was in 1936, when Eurasian actress Merle Oberon was up for The Dark Angel. Meanwhile, the last time any Asian actor was nominated by the Academy was in 2007, when Rinko Kikuchi was up for Best Supporting Actress for Babel.

Overall, the lack of expanded representation comes after decades of being overlooked during awards season.

The issue was further aggravated at the 2016 Oscars — which had already drawn criticism over the failure to nominate any people of color in the acting categories — when host Chris Rock brought out three Asian-American children for a stereotype-laden sight gag. Constance Wu and others slammed the joke, and a few days later, Sandra Oh, George Takei and director Ang Lee were among several Academy members to sign an open letter calling for an apology.

As the Los Angeles Times found in a 2012 report, Oscar voters were 94 percent white and 77 percent male, with Black voters eking out only two percent and Latinx voters making up even less. The Academy’s current breakdown isn’t clear, but ABC reported last year that based on the most recent numbers provided, it was making steps toward change, with women making up 49 percent of the members added in 2018, and people of color accounting for 38 percent. Despite these efforts, the fact remains that in 2018, people of color still made up only 16 percent of the Academy’s overall voting body.

A similar perspective was shared by Nancy Wang Yuen, a sociologist and author of Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism. “If the stereotype is that Asians are not expressive and the entire enterprise of acting and the reward of the Oscars is about being expressive, those stereotypes work against Asian actors,” Yuen told VICE. “There’s variation in expression, just as there is variation of expression in Western cultures, but there’s racism against Asians: the idea that all Asians look alike, the inability to distinguish between Asians and [different] Asian cultures. Those old racist ideas that Asians have to face in the general culture definitely impact how they fare in popular culture.”

It’s the 92nd Academy awards this year. Let’s hope the Academy finally wakes up to the plethora of Asian talent at the movies; because as Bong Joon Ho said, “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

Feature Image Credits: Getty Images

Paridhi Puri

[email protected]

Though Bong Joon-Ho’s Korean cinematic masterpiece may have broken the glass ceiling of the Oscars with its nominations, it becomes important for another reason too- its acknowledgment of the class divide in the Asian community, and the reality of the rich and successful. 

Note: Spoilers below. Proceed with caution.

Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite is making headlines with its numerous nominations at the Oscars, with the buzz of it becoming the first non-English language film to win the best picture. It’s perhaps hilariously ironic that Parasite is breaking the glass ceiling of the ‘White Academy Awards’ because it so beautifully weaves together a cinematic of just not ever breaking the glass ceiling of the wealth divide and the idea of an upstairs-downstairs life. 

Perhaps an upstairs-downstairs life is what Parasite showcases the best- the very existence of the ‘semi-basement’ in which the Kims live in suggests a feeling of denial that the poor man often feels; “it’s a semi-basement after all, and not a basement” as though the house exists in state of middle, being under the ground but not believing that it is. It reflects a feeling that everyone who is trying to make it big but doesn’t have the means to has: hope. 

The story opens with the Kim family hunting for WiFi while they fold pizza boxes, and letting the street fumigation disinfect their house from pests. None of them is employed, until the son, Kiwoo, bags a job at the Park residence tutoring their daughter. The Parks are the opposite of the Kim family- where the Kims live in a semi-basement apartment, the Parks have a huge, two-storey house with a garden. Their house represents what they are- over the ground, rich and successful- just like the Kims’ house represents what they are. The film proceeds with a montage of the Kim family taking over the Parks- Ki-Jung, the Kims’ daughter, becomes an art therapist to the Parks’ son, Chung-sook, the mother, becomes the housekeeper after they get rid of the Parks’ precious employee, and the father, Ki-Taek, becomes the Parks’ driver. It becomes a strange tug of war to feel bad for the Parks as the movie proceeds because the actions of the Kims are just that relatable, the Parks’ are just that ridiculously rich, and it is here that the question arises- what is a poor man exploiting a rich man exploiting a poor man? 

 

Later in the movie, it is revealed that the Parks’ home has a secret basement, and the Parks’ precious housekeeper, Mun-Kwang had been keeping her husband there secretly. It is here in the scene where Mun-Kwang begs the Kim mother to let her husband stay there and to help them out because they’re their “neighbours in need”, where you see the denial of the Kims at accepting that they’re the same as Mun-Kwang and her husband. Both the families are leeching off the Parks, and yet in two different ways. 

And yet still, this leeching is something that we’re sympathetic with because, throughout the entirety of the movie, we have seen Parks and their contribution to the class divide. It is in the way that Mr. Park thinks the Kim father smells- stinks– a certain way, the way all working-class people who take the subway smell. This distaste of Mr. Park is pointed out in various scenes with he acts towards the Kim father, and after he tells his wife of this ‘smell’, she also plugs her nose at him. This divide is seen in the way the two families interpreted the rains in the city- what devastated the Kims apartment and brought them and hundreds of other poor people out into the streets were showers to clear the sky for the Parks. Mr. Park doesn’t even let Mr. Kim feel upset about the devastating loss of all his belongings- to him, Mr. Kim should revel in the finery and celebrations of his son’s birthday, simply because he’s being paid. 

The party scene of the movie is important for very many reasons. The first is the death of Ki-Jung, Kim’s daughter who gets stabbed by Mun-Kwang’s husband. While she’s stabbed, the Parks’ young son gets traumatised and has a seizure, and all of the Parks’ friends run away. They all have big cars, and yet Mr. Park demands only Mr. Kim, whose daughter is bleeding to death in his arms, to give up the car keys and drive his son to the hospital. One may argue that it’s because he simply does not know that Ki-Jung is Mr. Kim’s daughter. But one has to wonder why it is the servant who gets the responsibility of driving the Parks during the emergency while their friends run away and another person lays dying in front of them. This scene is important also because of Mr. Park’s reaction to Mun-Kwang’s dead husband; while Mr. Park’s son is in pain due to his seizures and two people dead in front of him, his only concern while fishing out the key from under the dead body is the layman’s ‘smell’, which is perhaps why we’re not as horrified to see him die later. 

The penultimate shot of Parasite after Ki-woo vows to make enough money to buy the Park mansion and free his dad who is hiding in the secret basement is of Ki-woo hugging his father, as they stand in the garden, perhaps a symbolism of them finally being above ground, rich and successful. But then the movie ends with the camera panning down to the semi-basement where Ki-woo is still writing the letter. This ending is symbolic- everyone knows what the reality is. What Ki-woo wants will never happen, and it is in the end that we realise the real parasite was never the poor leeching off of the rich.

It was the hope leeching off of the poor. 

Featured Image Credits: IMDb

Shreya Juyal
[email protected] 

 

From Dharavi to Oscars, read how Gully Boy’s nomination and how “apna time aa gaya”.

Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy, which created a stir and started a lyrical revolution for the underdogs of Indian music, has been selected as India’s official entry in the International Feature Film category at the Academy Awards, more popularly referred to as the Oscars. This film, featuring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt, has been inspired by the lives of two Indian rappers, Divine and Naezy. The story of an aspiring rapper rising from the slums of Dharavi in Mumbai, fighting against the odds and obstacles was tied together with brilliant music and lyrics that touched upon the realities of life. Singh’s character, Murad, represents a myriad of ideas in the film. He is a young boy who finally finds meaning, and a voice in the songs that he writes. The struggles in his life take the centre stage in his songs, and authenticity becomes his uniqueness.

A dominant part of these struggles was the stark difference between the “haves” and “have-nots”. It draws out these visual contrasts when unaffluent Murad passes tall towers in his boss’ fancy car. Gully Boy also talks about the issues over authority between the protagonist and his father; it shows the plight of his mother when her husband remarries, and the persistent desire to be emancipated from the endless struggles that the “common man” faces. When this nomination was announced, it was met with appreciation, except several people also voiced out the other side to this decision. The Indian Film Federation unanimously selected Gully Boy over 27 other films, including Article 15, Super Deluxe, and Pahuna. Critics have argued that a Bollywood film of this scale and star-cast has certain factors playing in its favour, and while smaller films from other regions, languages, and demographics are also strong contenders in terms of the quality of cinema, they will not be given the recognition they deserve. Netizens are tweeting about other such critically acclaimed films such as Andhadhun, And the Oscar Goes To, Tumbbad, Uyare, among several others. Over the years, the films that have been nominated have been in the mainstream domain of the Hindi language. Till date, only two Malayalam films have been selected, along with one Telugu film, and no Kannada film has ever made it to the nominations. A common narrative that exists is that the Indian cinema is synonymous with Bollywood. There is a prevalent lack of awareness about other important industries, and those domains of Indian cinema are seen as the “others”. It is forgotten, almost always, that the Indian cinemascape goes beyond the dominance of Bollywood, to the diverse regions, languages, and identities that our land comprises of.

This film was lauded for its social and political undertones, except many also argue how it addressed these issues in a very ambiguous manner. The scene where Singh’s character goes around the city with Kalki Koechlin’s character and they spray-paint billboards all over the town and write “Feed Me” next to a model, “Brown and Beautiful” on a fairness cream advertisement are some of the ambiguities in the message it attempts to put forth. Even the ideas of majoritarianism, politics, and corruption are subtly hinted at. Many people also called out Bhatt’s character, Safeena, to be problematic after the Kabir Singh debates. For some, these mixed ideas of politics added to the layers in the film as they did not overpower the story, while leaving an impact. They further argue that this film opened doors to the discourse on these issues, except some others emphasise on how the film shrugs off its burdens by using subtlety as a tool. It is said that the jury which was responsible for the selection believed that a “feel-good factor” was essential for an Oscars nomination. While these are the many sides to this debate, apna time aa gaya (our time is here) and Gully Boy is now heading towards a much-awaited Oscars. It is a film which gave us a reality check, Siddhant Chaturvedi, catchy dialogues, and a seat at the Oscars.

Feature Image Credits: India Today

Shivani Dadhwal

[email protected]

I sat in front of my television at sharp 8 a.m. on a Monday morning to watch the Oscars. You see, I wanted to watch how the Oscars would go in the shadow of the sexual assault allegations leveraged against many powerful men of Hollywood and, trust me, I wasn’t disappointed. Gary Oldman won the Oscar for Best Actor for his film Darkest Hour. Kobe Bryant won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for Dear Basketball. Ryan Seacrest was seen hosting E!’s Oscars red carpet despite being accused of sexual harassment by a former stylist.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Gary Oldman has been accused of violently hitting his wife in the face with a telephone receiver in 2001. Kobe Bryant is accused of raping a 19-year-old hotel employee in Colorado. Last year, Casey Affleck won the Best Actor for his film Manchester by the Sea even after being accused of sexually terrorising female colleagues on the set of I’m Still Here, a 2010 mockumentary. In the age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, Oscars are not even paying attention to the ongoing conversation about the prevailing culture of sexual harassment. Instead, they are hell-bent on rewarding rapists and abusers.

Gary Oldman and Kobe Bryant have joined an exclusive club of Hollywood – the accused who get away with anything because of their ‘art’. Everybody knows who they are – Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Mel Gibson, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, etc. Hollywood has a sick forgive-and-forget attitude towards its guilty white male artists. These men should have been facing serious consequences for their actions. Instead, here they are, standing unhurt and continuing with their illustrious careers. Giving these abusive men awards for their work is almost like giving them an institutional approval and dismissing the claims of the victims and survivors.

Why are we stressing so much on this? It is because winning an Oscar gives you a worldwide recognition and elevates your career. As you become more successful, there are higher chances of the victims’ voices to be unheard. By keeping and validating these abusive male artists, we are forcing more and more women and vulnerable populations like children to work with them and subsequently endangering their physical safety and mental health. By awarding the professional credentials of these sexual abusers we are conveying a message that we do not care about the testimonies or the trauma of those who suffered at the hands of these men because the value of successful ‘art’ is more than the lived experiences of anyone.

To make #MeToo a successful movement, it is important that we listen to the victims and believe them. It is also important to make sure that every predator faces serious consequences for every wrong doings and doesn’t get away with it. Not anymore because Times Up!

 

Feature Image Credits: Getty Images

Disha Saxena

[email protected]

As someone who is keenly interested in politics, a dark comedy about elections against the backdrop of the conflict-ridden jungles of Dandakaranya is an absolute must-watch. So naturally, I watched Newton – and I wasn’t disappointed. Newton Kumar, an upright and honest government clerk is sent on election duty to the Naxal-affected and conflict-ridden jungles of Dandakaranya in Chhattisgarh, India. In between the insouciance of the security forces and the fear of attacks by Naxalites, he struggles to conduct free and fair polling for 76 indifferent tribal citizens. Director Amit V. Masurkar and co-scriptwriter Mayank Tewari have crafted excellent characters and written remarkable dialogues that are delivered flawlessly by the talented cast. My favourite was, “Imandari se dil halka hona chahiye” (honesty should make the heart lighter). Newton is stubborn but also vulnerable, and the kind of guy who can easily be beaten up. Despite his impractical and idealistically naïve antics, you’ll find yourself rooting for him. Aatma Singh, played by Pankaj Tripathi, is a practical and experienced Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) commander. Anjali Patil does justice to the character of Malko, a local block-level officer who brings the Adivasi, slightly pro-Naxal perspective, into the story. Loknath, Newton’s colleague played by Raghubir Yadav, is a delightful character who accurately embodies the aloofness and concerns of a middle-class government employee. The film does not have a storyline per se, and for a while, it tends to get slow in the middle. Throughout the movie, several sensitive issues are touched upon such as the practice of strategic hamletting in which villages are deliberately burnt by the armed forces so that villagers can then be moved to makeshift accommodation near army camps, the ill-treatment of tribals by the military, fake surrenders, the lack of supplies for the CRPF, and the “election tourism” orchestrated by the government for journalists.  All these details and nuances are taken from various books such as Hello Bastar by Rahul Pandita and Nandini Sundar’s book Subalterns and Sovereigns. The scene where Loknath suggests that to curb the insurgency, the government should introduce televisions in tribal homes because televisions will instigate greed and greed will extinguish the rebellion is directly picked from Arundhati Roy’s essay Walking with The Comrades. Swapnil Sonawane’s cinematography gauges the aesthetics from each location and shapes each shot perfectly. Naren Chandavarkar and Benedict Taylor’s music must be credited with adding poignancy in a heartbreaking segment where clueless tribals are forced to participate in polling for the sake of cameras. There are no dialogues in that segment, but the haunting music accompanies the crass pretence of democracy. While I laud Newton for highlighting an extremely important subject, I cannot help but discount Amit V. Masurkar for, what I feel is, playing safe. The film hesitates from taking sides and, under the guise of humour and neutrality, dilutes the complex issue of Naxal insurgency into a simplistic, unoriginal take on the state versus the Maoists. Newton could have been the finest political satire we have seen only if the director had chosen to be more overt and brave. Nevertheless, the movie still deserves to represent India at the Academy Awards and I hope it inspires more people to watch it.   Feature Image Credits: Eros Now Niharika Dabral [email protected]]]>

We’re all with familiar with the phrase ‘OscarsSoWhite”, however this year the Oscar diversity drought came to a temporary halt with a sizeable number of black nominations. However, is this just a farce? The tussle between Casey Affleck and Nate Parker makes us think so.

At the Sundance Film Festival last year, Nate Parker’s directorial debut The Birth of a Nation about a 1831 Virginia slave rebellion and Casey Affleck starrer Manchester By The Sea about a Boston janitor promised to make the Oscar rounds. With the coming of 2017, there seems to be no trace or mention of Parker while Affleck has picked up a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the heart broken janitor. So what changed? When Parker’s film released in October, it was overshadowed by the news that back in 1999, nineteen year old Parker and the film’s co-writer Jean Celestin had been accused of raping a fellow student in college. Parker was acquitted on grounds that he had consensual sex with the victim prior to the incident. Amidst the uproar, sexual harassment charges against Affleck resurfaced which allegedly took place on the set of his 2010 mockumentary, I’m Still Here. According to the Guardian, “original allegations included claims that Affleck hired transvestite prostitutes ‘for his personal gratification’ and during filming, referred to women as cows, manhandled her when she rejected his sexual advances and instructed a camera operator to flash his genitals at her.”

The one thing that has particularly galled a number of observers is the profiles of Affleck that make only a mere passing mention of his indiscretions. In stark contrast, when the news of Parker broke out, The Daily Beast says Academy voters said that they won’t even watch the movie while the American Film Institute cancelled a screening. Rev Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist, told the Root , an online magazine of African American culture, “Is the standard now that you can take an almost two-decade acquittal and deny him the Oscars, but it’s all right for others who’ve done crazy stuff to be Oscar material? I just want to know, what’s the standard?”

There is no escaping Affleck’s privilege as Ben Affleck’s younger brother who has one of Hollywood’s most enduring friendships with the influential Matt Damon. There is definitely no escaping the race factor as The Daily Wire rightly puts, “Black man acquitted of a single incident involving one woman 17 years ago, has his entire career destroyed. White man who settled two sexual harassment suits from two separate accusers that involve alleged behavior on a film set just six years ago, is well on his way to Oscar glory.”

This is reminiscent of Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird” where a black man is accused of rape simply because he is black and such violence is attributed to his race. Thus, ladies and gentlemen we observe that Nate Parker has disappeared of the Oscar radar while Ben’s little brother is on an award winning roll.

Image Credits: www.newyorker.com

Anahita Sahu

[email protected]

Which movies made it to the list and what to look out for?

Since the Academy Award Nominees were announced recently, we bring to you a list- along with a short synopsis -of the Nominees in the Best Picture category.

AMOUR:

Synopsis: Georges and Anne are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack. The couple’s bond of love is severely tested.

ARGO:

Synopsis: Argo is a 2012 American thriller film directed by Ben Affleck; it is a dramatization of the “Canadian Caper” based on an article published in 2007, in which Tony Mendez, a CIA operative, led the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran,Iran, during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD:

About: Beasts of the Southern Wild is a 2012 American fantasy drama film directed by Benh Zeitlin and written by Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar from Alibar’s one-act play, Juicy and Delicious.

DJANGO UNCHAINED:

Synopsis: Set in the antebellum era of the  and Old West, the film follows a freed slave who treks across America with a bounty hunteron a mission to rescue his wife from a cruel and charismatic plantation owner.

Les Misérables:

About: Les Misérables is a 2012 British musical drama film produced by Working Title Films and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film is based on the musical of the same name by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg which is in turn based on Les Misérables, the 1862 French novel by Victor Hugo.

LIFE OF PI:

Synopsis: Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. The protagonist, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, an Indian boy from Pondicherry, explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

LINCOLN:

Synopsis: Lincoln is a 2012 American historical drama film directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as United States President Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. The film is based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography of Lincoln, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, and covers the final four months of Lincoln’s life, focusing on the President’s efforts in January 1865 to have the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution passed by the United States House of Representatives.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK:

Synopsis: Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) has lost everything — his house, his job, and his wife. He now finds himself living back with his mother (Jacki Weaver) and father (Robert DeNiro) after spending eight months is a state institution on a plea bargain. Pat is determined to rebuild his life, remain positive and reunite with his wife, despite the challenging circumstances of their separation. All Pat’s parents want is for him to get back on his feet-and to share their family’s obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team. When Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own, things get complicated. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he’ll do something very important for her in return. As their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear in both of their lives.

ZERO DARK THIRTY:

Synopsis: For a decade, an elite team of intelligence and military operatives, working in secret across the globe, devoted themselves to a single goal: to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden. Zero Dark Thirty reunites the Oscar winning team of director-producer Kathryn Bigelow and writer-producer Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) for the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man.

Credits:
http://oscar.go.com
www.wikipedia.com
www.rottentomatoes.com
Official websites of the respective movies.

 

Anugrah Gopinath
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The month of February is host to Hollywood’s most coveted and star-studded event of the year-The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars. Celebrities walk down the prestigious red carpet, veterans basking in the brilliance of their successes while newcomers flock around in expensive gowns and tuxedos, eyes shining with the dream of being nominated in the future. However, looking beneath the glitzy surface, one can’t help but notice the politics and carefully selected patterns visible in the yearly choice of movies, actors and directors.

If the past 84 years were any indication, the movies that usually win the Academy awards are steeped in predictability and contain a truckload of clichés, while meritorious wins are few and far between. An award ceremony that goes on longer than the Lord Of The Rings trilogy combined, the much awaited awards are kept for the end when most people dream of curling up under a warm blanket and falling off to sleep. Apart from that, any slightly observant person will have the ability to notice that the movies that are usually nominated for the Oscar consist of gay men, a war-torn Afghanistan or Iraq, or a loveable character with some sort of mental disability. Forrest Gump, Milk, Hurt Locker, Rain man, Brokeback Mountain, And the most recent Argo, anyone?

Despite the fact that these movies are undoubtedly viewable, some even being good enough to be placed on the average movie lover’s list of top 50 movies to watch, this doesn’t change the fact that brilliant flicks such as Saving Private Ryan have lost out to the more safer option, Shakespeare in Love, in 1998. Ten years later, the trend continues with the highly overrated Slumdog Millionaire sweeping up 8 out of 10 Oscar nominations in 2008. It was indeed a proud moment for India, but considering the fact that there have been so many movies produced about Indians, for Indians and by Indians, one wonders how brilliant this movie would have been if it had been compared to others such as Salaam Bombay. Furthermore, it continues to emphasise strongly on how clichéd the Academy award nominations tend to get, with the stereotypical representation of India as one gigantic slum with loving people who base their lives on fate and destiny.

The Indian hype surrounding the Oscars is no less bizarre when we consider the quality of the movies sent in for review. Paheli, containing some ridiculous mumbo-jumbo about a ghost and his human lover was chosen over more powerful movies like Black in 2006 and Ekalavya, which deserved an award for humanity’s most wasted and boring 3 hours, was sent as India’s official entry for 2007. Regional films don’t even come close to being selected. As movies are also not spared, one does begin to wonder why everything has to have a political element attached to it.

As we sit down to view the much-awaited 85th Annual Academy Awards on the 24th of February, get ready to predict which movie has a chance at winning the prize at the world’s most overrated award ceremony. However, despite all its poorly disguised faults and politicized wins, the board definitely receives credit for its ability to attract the attention of people across the world to celebrate the irresistible power of entertainment.