Oscar Haiku

I love the Oscars. I’m a big movie buff so watching the Oscars is one of my favourite things each year. It always brings back a lot of memories, particularly of certain films and where I was at that time in my life. I can still remember when Roberto Benigni won; he was so happy and infectious, it made me look for Life is Beautiful, which is now one of my favourite films.

I’ve been looking forward to the Oscars this year. One reason is because I like Steve Martin but it’s also because we’re getting the telecast live this year, which is a bonus. In the past it hasn’t been shown live in Australia, so I’ve usually had to dodge the news and phone calls all day until finally watching a delayed telecast in the evening. This time I’ll be able to watch the whole thing live.

I tend to see most of the nominated films on DVD, so the only one I’ve seen so far is Avatar, and I’ve read the book of Precious (Push). I liked Avatar but to be honest I’m hoping (on reputation) that The Hurt Locker or Up in the Air win. Avatar was fun and it’s a brilliant technical achievement but the script was clichéd and some of the dialogue was terrible. It deserves to win most of the technical awards but I’d rather see The Hurt Locker win Best Picture. And Kathryn Bigelow Best Director. It’s about time a woman won. Finally.

I’d like to see Jeff Bridges win an Oscar at last but apart from that, I’m not really bothered about the other main awards. The one category I’d like to see an upset in is the musical score. I just don’t get Giacchino’s work; it all sounds like blaring horns to me. I think Alexandre Desplat deserves to win but it won’t happen.

Anyway, to get into the Oscar spirit I’ve written several haiku of my favourite films. I’ve tried to capture the spirit of each film and it was a lot of fun – although reducing Gone with the Wind to 17 syllables was very difficult!

There are fifteen haiku and each film was nominated for Best Picture. Only 10 of them actually won the Oscar, though. Can you tell me which ones didn’t win? 😉

Hope you enjoy them. Have you seen many of the Oscar nominated films this year?

The Ring of Power:
A burden none can carry
Except one so small

(The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)

Torn between
Love and virtue
Rick sends his love away
While Sam plays on

(Casablanca)

Dorothy dreams
Of witches and Oz
Of the Yellow Brick Road
And home

(The Wizard of Oz)

Mrs. Robinson
Seduces a younger man:
He loves her daughter

(The Graduate)

A love unrequited
Burns like the
Southern sun
And Scarlett’s spirit

(Gone with the Wind)

If life’s like
A box of chocolates
Why does love have
A bitter taste?

(Forrest Gump)

Young woman
Teaches children to sing
And finds love
As Nazis descend

(The Sound of Music)

Boy who walks the sky
Meets pirates and a princess:
The Force is with him

(Star Wars)

The underdog
Finally given his chance
To fly
Finds love instead

(Rocky)

A broken soldier
Finds solace among the Sioux
Before war returns

(Dances With Wolves)

The life of one
Reclusive man
Described in a single word:
Rosebud

(Citizen Kane)

Normandy
Blood on the water
Death in the air:
He still remembers

(Saving Private Ryan)

The life of a Don
Brutal and vicious:
Your son becomes you

(The Godfather)

Former boxer
Finds his voice against
The mob
To become a hero

(On the Waterfront)

Doomed voyage
Ends in icy waters
But their love will last
Forever

(Titanic)

Image Credit: Past Projections ~ Dan Duggan

Update: The Oscars finished about an hour ago. I found it disappointing after all that. Steve Martin & Alec Baldwin did quite well but it was too old-fashioned at times. The main problem was it had no momentum. By getting rid of the performances, it just dragged on and on.

Also, did I miss it or was Farrah Fawcett left off the In Memoriam tribute? Very strange. Quite underwhelming overall. But at least Jeff Bridges and Kathryn Bigelow won. About time too.

Indy Rides Again

I love Harrison Ford. He’s one of those actors that always feels familiar no matter what he’s in. It’s the same whenever I watch Clint Eastwood or Tom Hanks; they just become their parts and bring their experience to any film. At one time Ford had starred in the top five box office hits of all time but I think his dramatic roles are underrated as well, like Witness and The Mosquito Coast. But of course he’ll always be remembered for Han Solo and Indiana Jones.

The Indy films are some of my favourites. They’re such fun films and I still think Raiders of the Lost Ark is the best adventure film that’s been made, mainly because of the balance between action, character and humour. I saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull yesterday and enjoyed it. It brought back a lot of memories of the previous films and of my childhood as well. It’s funny how you associate movies with a time in your life, isn’t it?

I saw Raiders when I was eight and loved it. At that time it was like nothing I’d seen before, particularly when the guy’s head exploded! I remember one of the things that really struck me about it was the music. At the time I had no idea it was John Williams who’d scored Star Wars as well but it seemed so light and playful, I loved it. I still get a chill when I hear The Raiders March even now.

I came across this video earlier and thought I’d post it to celebrate the release of the new film. It’s The Raiders March in all its glory, set to the artwork of Drew Struzan. Struzan’s poster artwork for the Indy films is stunning and really helped to define Indy’s style. I love his artwork for Pan’s Labyrinth as well.

So what did I think of the new film? Avoiding spoilers, I enjoyed it. It’s a fun adventure and Ford definitely doesn’t look too old for the role, which was ridiculous anyway; Indy uses his wits and knowledge to defeat his opponents, not brute strength. Karen Allen returns after 27 years and Cate Blanchett is great as a Soviet femme fatale. Shia LaBeouf offers support and some smouldering looks for the camera. The storyline has a few twists and there’s a superb jungle chase sequence that rivals anything from the earlier films.

It’s not Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Last Crusade but it has the humour that Temple of Doom lacked; I liked it more than that and the last half flies by. The main problem is that it doesn’t follow the same Indy formula as the previous films. It feels much more like a 50s B-movie than a 30s serial and some people will think it’s not an “Indiana Jones” movie because of that. But I quite liked that; you can’t make the same film 19 years later, so if you change the setting to the 50s, why not change the formula too?

The biggest surprise for me was John Williams’ score. His scores have become a little repetitive in recent years but this is one of his most enjoyable scores in a long time. It’s a thrill hearing The Raiders Theme again and the Crystal Skull motif is particularly good, an eerie, three note string piece that builds to a crescendo later in the film. It brings back all those memories of listening to the Raiders score for the first time and I wasn’t expecting that at all!

Overall I thought Crystal Skull was good. It matched my expectations and if you’re a fan of Indy or Harrison Ford I’d definitely say go and see it; it’s fun and that’s what matters. Just don’t expect it to be the same kind of film as the others; it’s different, as it had to be after 19 years. I’d say it’s worth seeing just for Cate Blanchett. She steals the show! But then I might be biased. 😉

10 favourite movie moments

Usually when I think of a movie, there’s always a scene that comes to mind and brings back how I felt; even if I don’t remember the rest of the movie, that scene is enough to bring it all rushing back. A joke, an action scene, a kiss… there are so many great moments, but here’s a quick list of my favourites. I wonder how many would be on yours? 😉

10) Steve McQueen’s vault for the Swiss border
The Great Escape
One of the best WWII dramas, the whole motorcycle chase, the final jump and Elmer Bernstein’s score always stand out for me. It’s probably Steve McQueen’s greatest performance and the image of McQueen on the motorcycle is indelible.

9) The chariot race
Ben-Hur
When you think of epics you can’t go past Ben-Hur. I always found it a little too long, but the chariot race is one of the most spectacular and thrilling sequences ever filmed. And Miklos Rozsa’s score is stunning.

8) The construction site
Good Will Hunting
Good Will Hunting
is one of my favourite movies; it’s such a realistic portrayal of friendship between two young men, and this scene (where Chuckie says he hopes one day he’ll knock on Will’s door and he won’t be there) sums up the whole film for me.

7) The farewell scene
Casablanca
One of the great love stories mainly because of the chemistry between Bogart and Bergman, this is the scene most people remember best. The foggy atmosphere, the plane in the background, “We’ll always have Paris”… even if you think the film’s slightly overrated, this scene is a classic.

6) Indy shoots the swordsman
Raiders of the Lost Ark
I still think Raiders is the best adventure film that’s been made, mainly because of the balance of action, character and humour. This scene has all three and it’s one of the funniest scenes I’ve seen – all the more so because it wasn’t scripted.

5) Somewhere Over The Rainbow
The Wizard of Oz
Still one of the best children’s films of all time, I love the song and Judy Garland’s voice. It’s just a quintessential scene, and all the more amazing that it is when you think the song was almost cut because it slowed the pace of the film.

4) The Bridge of Khazad-dûm
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
In my view LOTR is the greatest trilogy ever filmed and Gandalf’s fall into the abyss looks like it’s come straight out of the books. It’s a beautiful scene, particularly in the moments after when we see the loss on the faces of the other characters.

3) Darth Vader reveals he is Luke’s father
The Empire Strikes Back
The best of the Star Wars films, the first time you hear Vader’s revelation it just overpowers the rest of the film. Of course it’s actually quite obvious, but I was stunned at the time and watched Return of the Jedi the next day to see if it was true; I can’t imagine having to wait three years to find out.

2) The shower scene
Psycho
If the shower scene in Psycho isn’t the most iconic scene in cinema history, I’m not sure what is. Bates’ murder of Marion Crane is masterfully done by Hitchcock; with little gore, it’s the build-up that’s so scary, set to Bernard Herrmann’s violin-screeches.

1) The Normandy landings
Saving Private Ryan
The D-Day scene in Saving Private Ryan is wrenching and incredibly difficult to watch; it’s brutal and hellish, but it’s one of the most emotional, affecting scenes I’ve ever seen and it’s the scene that, more than any other, brings back the whole film for me. To say it’s my favourite scene is probably wrong (it would be the shower scene in Psycho), but it’s the scene that stays with me more than any other, so it has to be #1.