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On Cruise control

Celebrating the “Mission: Impossible” films. And their star. Sometime last week, Shah Rukh Khan managed to combine, in a single tweet, escapist cinema, Victorian literature and what sounded like the motto of your local gym: “Ethan Hunt & James Bond in one film….that’s my Final Fantasy…then as Thomas Hardy wrote…. ‘I can pass away and die’ Ecstasy in Steroids.” At least with respect to Bond … Continue reading On Cruise control

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Pride, yes. But no prejudice, please.

The closing-night film of this year’s Chennai International Queer Film Festival is about marginalised groups, but not in the way you expect. It’s probably best to hear the story from the man who wrote it. In a Guardian interview, screenwriter Stephen Beresford recalled a meeting with film producer David Livingstone in September 2010. Livingstone asked, “Is there any story you are burning to write?” As … Continue reading Pride, yes. But no prejudice, please.

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You’ll run out of adjectives raving about this one

Spoilers ahead… You may have seen a lot of David Lean comparisons in the reviews for George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s not difficult to join the dots. The scope is epic. It all happens in a desert. Tremendous emphasis on visuals, with extraordinary use of screen space as well as 3D technology. Had Lean made a 3D post-apocalyptic action-epic, it might have been … Continue reading You’ll run out of adjectives raving about this one

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Crowd funding inititative for Orson Welles’ last film

Got this via email. Now go do your good deed for the day. Hi Mr. Rangan, Without mincing words, I am writing this mail to you to seek the help of your name. A crowd funding Inititative has been started to finance the completion of Orson Welles’ last film “The Other Side Of the Wind”, his most ambitious project. I’ve spent 9 years of my life … Continue reading Crowd funding inititative for Orson Welles’ last film

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“Broken Horses”… A wan remake of ‘Parinda’

Spoilers ahead… Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Broken Horses is about two brothers, Buddy (Chris Marquette) and Jakey (Anton Yelchin), and it opens with a note that this story is set 15 years ago. You could go back further – not just to Chopra’s Parinda, of which this is a loose remake, but to 1950s Hollywood, when these brothers might have been played by Burt Lancaster and … Continue reading “Broken Horses”… A wan remake of ‘Parinda’

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Shakespeare (plus Bollywood) Wallah

Reflections on Shashi Kapoor, recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke award for 2014. I’m not getting into the whole “does he deserve it?” debate, but the news about the Phalke filled me with a vague kind of happiness. There’s always been something wholesome, something nice about Shashi Kapoor. You probably remember the Friends episode that was about the crush-worthy celebrities you were allowed to sleep with … Continue reading Shakespeare (plus Bollywood) Wallah

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Apples, oranges, and a lot of stale cheese

If you want to know what was wrong with this year’s Oscar telecast, just Google up “2013 Tony Awards: Neil Patrick Harris Opening Number HD.” Now that is a show. There’s singing. There’s dancing. There’s acrobatics. He leaps through a hoop. And there’s magic – literal magic. Harris steps into a box on stage and the side panels close, and when they open, he’s no … Continue reading Apples, oranges, and a lot of stale cheese

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Berlin Diary: The heat is on

Holmes is older. Mainstream sex becomes bolder. And Peter Greenaway blasts the cobwebs off biopic conventions. After a lot of earnest, well-intentioned, even well-made films, there was still the sense that there has been nothing yet that really shook you, shocked you. That probably explained the crowds at the screening of the new Peter Greenaway film, Eisenstein in Guanajuato. The faith wasn’t misplaced. Had Hollywood … Continue reading Berlin Diary: The heat is on

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Berlin Diary: Ice cream, cheesecake…

All good things, including film festivals, must come to an end. Midway through the festival, I decided I hadn’t seen much Asian cinema. I missed Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dhanak, thinking that I’ll get to see it back home anyway. (A friend who was at the screening said the response was rapturous.) The in-competition Chinese film Gone With the Bullets didn’t interest me much – I’m sure … Continue reading Berlin Diary: Ice cream, cheesecake…

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Berlin Diary: Franco-philia

When does James Franco sleep? That question isn’t likely to be answered soon, given the number of films he has at the Berlinale. James Franco spreads himself so thin that for every film he bombs out in, like Herzog’s Queen of the Desert, the law of averages practically guarantees something better somewhere else. We get that revelatory performance in Justin Kelly’s I Am Michael, which … Continue reading Berlin Diary: Franco-philia

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Berlin Diary: Red, white and blue

Thoughts on the festival’s tribute to Technicolor films, mainly from Hollywood. It’s strange in this internet-booking era to find oneself queuing up for a film. It’s stranger still when the film isn’t new, or when it’s the kind that hardly anyone sees, save for committed (and, yes, should-be-committed) cinephiles. But long lines are a regular feature at the Berlinale. There are long lines for press … Continue reading Berlin Diary: Red, white and blue

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Berlin Diary: Lost in translation

On Terrence Malick’s new movie, which is very much in the vein of his recent work. Knight of Cups, Terrence Malick’s latest head-scratcher movie, starring Christian Bale, features an earthquake, a temperamental sibling, an emotional ex-wife (Cate Blanchett), several dalliances (including one with Freida Pinto, who sticks her toes into Bale’s mouth), a hold-up in an apartment – it’s the stuff of high drama, but … Continue reading Berlin Diary: Lost in translation

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Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Moses supposes…”

Thoughts on ‘Exodus’, ‘The Ten Commandments’, Old Hollywood and New Hollywood. Just last week, I wrote about Gone With the Wind, and how, 75 years after its release, it remains the epitome of a certain style of filmmaking – the Old Hollywood Style, if you will. I was reminded of that style again while watching Ridley Scott’s new movie Exodus: Gods and Kings. Actually, it … Continue reading Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Moses supposes…”

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Lights, Camera, Conversation… “A study in Scarlett”

Training an Indian-cinema lens on the still-awesome ‘Gone With the Wind’, which turns 75 on December 15. Leonard Maltin, in his video guide, had this to say about Gone With the Wind: “If not the greatest movie ever made, certainly one of the greatest examples of storytelling on film, maintaining interest for nearly four hours.” It’s hard to disagree, even if the film isn’t in … Continue reading Lights, Camera, Conversation… “A study in Scarlett”

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Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Time passages”

Now that awards season has begun in the US, some thoughts on the wonderful ‘Boyhood’, an Oscar frontrunner. In the Before movies, Richard Linklater’s signature trope (if you want to call it that) was the walk-and-talk. The couple kept walking, the couple kept talking. And at some point, I was reminded of how Woody Allen likes to do the same thing. Almost every film of … Continue reading Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Time passages”

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Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Time for a toon-up”

Thoughts on animated features, which aren’t just for kids, and ‘Big Hero 6’, which is. “But that’s an animated movie!” I hear some version of this when I say I’m going to watch… well, an animated movie. It’s surprising how, even today, so many people think that animated films are only for children – something like Rio, which is essentially a colourful diversion to keep … Continue reading Lights, Camera, Conversation… “Time for a toon-up”

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Lights, Camera, Conversation… “The curious case of a buttoned-down movie”

Thoughts on the ho-hum film version of a book that I found a knockout (made by a director who’s usually a knockout). It’s hard to say why an eagerly anticipated movie – like David Fincher’s Gone Girl – doesn’t work for you. Part of the problem may be the eager anticipation itself. A book you really enjoyed reading + a director you really admire = … Continue reading Lights, Camera, Conversation… “The curious case of a buttoned-down movie”

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Lights, Camera, Conversation… “The man who does too much”

Thoughts on a filmmaker who wants to be considered so deep, it must hurt to be him. Has there been another director who has laboured as much as Christopher Nolan to make simple, generic stories look impressively complex? In Memento (Nolan’s first biggish movie; it still holds up very well), a routine revenge saga was tricked up with non-linear narration. The Batman movies attempted to … Continue reading Lights, Camera, Conversation… “The man who does too much”

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The Man behind the Mahatma

Richard Attenborough: 1923 – 2014. An appreciation. To many Indians, Richard Attenborough, who died on Sunday at the age of 90, was the man who dusted the Mahatma off the pages of history textbooks and made him come alive on screen – if not with warts and all, then certainly with the great soul’s humanity intact. Over the years, thanks to the empty rhetoric we … Continue reading The Man behind the Mahatma

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“The Grand Budapest Hotel”… Dial W for whimsy

Spoilers ahead… Just to get the formalities out of the way, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a shaggy dog story – rather, a shaggy drawing story. Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), the concierge of the titular establishment, inherits a priceless painting that goes by the name of… Boy with Apple, which sounds like someone’s tongue-in-cheek homage to Girl with a Pearl Earring. That someone, of course, … Continue reading “The Grand Budapest Hotel”… Dial W for whimsy

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