Month: August 2011

In praise of Pulp

Most underrated Brit band of the '90s?

It’s been fully 33 years since the UK band Pulp formed and 33 years since I’ve been around.  A coincidence?  I think not.  Perhaps the most misunderstood of the successful Britpop bands in the ’90s, it’s not to say they weren’t popular…just that perhaps they didn’t quite fit the zeitgeist.  Whilst Blur and Oasis battled it out, Pulp were there of course, producing a string of hit singles and albums, just not capturing the record-buying public’s imagination in the same way.  Arguably Suede and oddly bands like Menswear (who? yes, them) found the sudden burst of fame more readily than Pulp, in spite of number 1 album chart entries and critical acclaim.  The 3 albums from their commercial high-point stand the test of time more than 15 years later: His n Hers, Different Class and the darker This is Hardcore.

So as Pulp near the end of their reunion tour this year, after numerous festival appearances and gigs, I will look back fondly on the band that dared to be different.  Not just for the wonderful music (truly, thanks for the memories guys) but also for subverting the annointed one at the Brit awards in 1996.  MJ in full jesus impersonation flow was obviously too much to resist for Jarvis Cocker, frontman of Pulp.  I’ll leave you with footage of the farce and hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  For the record, Jarvis was charged with some kind of assault against the jesus juice peddling prince of pop, only to have comedian (and as it happens, qualified lawyer) Bob Mortimer represent him and have all charges subsequently dropped.


Martin

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Review Bodyguard

It’s Eid, a day of rejoicing after a pious month of fasting and introspection. And how do us Hindi Film fans celebrate? We go out to the movies of course! Since the past few years Eid has become synonymous with a Salman Khan release. He’s set records with Dabanng and Wanted at Eid and Ready earlier this year. Will he be able to do so again with Bodyguard? Will he be A-One number one and beat that other King? Has Upodcast ever been interested in the box office fate of a movie and will we start to do so now? If you want to know if Bodyguard will be a hit, I am sure there will be numerous reviews posted around the interwebz in the next few days. But if you want to get into the nitty gritty of Bodyguard, read our review!

Bodyguard is the story of Lovely Singh (Salman Khan)a trusted and loyal bodyguard that gets hired by Sartaj Rana (Raj babbar) – one of those dhoti wearing rich dudes with a moustache-  to protect his college going daughter Divya (Kareena Kapoor). Divya feels her style gets cramped by having a bodyguard shadowing her in college, so she decides to prank call Lovely Singh pretending to be a girl named Chayya to distract him by making him believe she is in love with him…Do I need to spell out what happens next?

It’s never great to start a review by talking about another movie but I have to admit as a Salman Khan fan, watching Ready ( our full review) was a torture that still gives me pant shitting nightmares every time I hear the annoying whistle from Dhinka Chikka. But it was a huge hit so I guess it only shows how much out of touch I can be with the taste of mainstream audiences. (I didn’t like Transformers 3 either). So to put it mildly I was reticent of watching Bodyguard after seeing the first trailer. I felt it was an easy cash earner riding on the popularity of Salman after his previous hits, the soundtrack wasn’t really exciting me either (does any Himesh soundtrack do that anymore?). Another thing Ready proved was that Salman’s movies were becoming critic proof, and no matter the shoddy direction or egregious plot, the shirt removal scenes would have the audiences in raptures. It’s back in vogue to be a Salman Khan fan and more power to him. He’s had a couple of rough years pre-Wanted.

(Where were you people when he was making Jaan E Mann, Garv and Veergati? I ask you this faux Salman fans, where were you when he needed you???)

Bodyguard is tailor made to be a massive hit. The timing is perfect, the marketing has been ramping up (of which you have seen a lot on Upodcast, truth be told) and they have created a lot of buzz in a short span of time (Bodyguard started shooting in January if I’m not mistaken). It mixes everything we want as a time pass movie in measured doses. First half is comedy and a hint of a love story. The 2nd half ramps up the action and emotions. The songs are placed with precision engineering and more than anything this movie is produced by an ace team.

Performances are what are to be expected from stars of this caliber. Glad to see that this will finally be a hit for this pair after the underappreciated Kyon Ki and the unmitigated disaster that was Main Aur Mrs Khanna. Salman is playing Salman as he usually does. He’s a lot more subdued playing a dutiful Bodyguard but the moments he needs to switch up with some classic Michael Jackson moves and charm the audience, he does so faultlessly. He’s become a master at giving the audience what they need, I just hope the audience needs this Salman for a whole while longer. Also can we have every movie of his start with a warehouse fight? (This one was particularly brilliant)

The money and effort spent Kareena’s look and wardrobe is staggering and she looks luminescent on screen in every frame. (We might still be a bit besotted by meeting her last week and her podcast with us). Compared to Kaajal Agarwal in Singham (The previous South Indian remake) who was also dressed in the ethnic look, you can understand what sets Kareena apart from anyone else and why she is in the position she is. Above all that she has really developed into a fine actress, even in a movie like this which is pretty light, the moments she needs to emote with her tear filled eyes, she does so with aplomb. She gets an introductory montage in the movie which makes you forget for a moment that you are watching a movie and if she would turn around and sell us a brand of shampoo or face cream, I am sure the audience would have run out and bought that product straight away. (She doesn’t do so although there is quite a bit of overt product placement throughout the movie). I’m not entirely sure she can still pull off the role of a college girl but I am sure people show me the “Amir Khan in 3 Idiots” card as soon as they have finished reading this sentence, so it becomes a moot point.

The action scenes designed by Vijayan (who worked with Salman in Wanted and Dabanng) are amazing, probably the best we will see all year (until Agneepath comes out). They take the no-holds barred mix martial arts approach from the climax of Dabanng and add more wire work to it. Whereas the wire work in Singham (apologies for harping on about Singham, maybe check out our full review for our thoughts) made the action seem weightless and cartoonish at times. The fights in Bodyguard feel more grounded as they are aided by well used freeze frames and bullet time. The final fight scene with Aditya Pancholi ( why don’t we see more of him) if breathtaking, and even if the villains are only punching bags for Salman in this movie, they do a pretty good job.

But all this is a success of the production team but a movie needs a few more elements like a tight or at least logical screenplay, clap worthy dialogues and competent directing and that is where bodyguard starts to falter.

Director Siddique has written and directed this movie 3 times (In Tamil as Kaavalan, in Malayalam as Bodyguard and now again in Hindi) now but he is still not skilled at telling the story and he seems to have no idea what the job description of bodyguard actually is. In Siddique’s warped mind a bodyguard is an amalgam of a special ops commando, a personal trainer and a nanny. Apparently a bodyguard needs to attract as much attention as possible and can also not sit next to his master.

He fills in the first half of the movie with an comedy track with overweight side kick (something that seems to happen quite a bit when importing movies from the south- see Wanted and Singham). The overweight girl from “I H8 Luv Stories” is somewhere on the background and only around so the midget (dwarf, little person, I don’t want to piss any karate proficient little people) can make some fat jokes. Apparently these jokes benefit from the rapid fire repartee of South Indian cadence, I don’t think I would find them funny in anyway shape or form.

The love story until the interval is pretty juvenile and if it wasn’t for the charming performance of the stars, it would be ridiculous. Why do remakes of South Indian movies make their female characters act only a couple of levels above the retardation line is a mystery to me? (I’m sure their moms had to get involved to get them just above that line a la Mama Gump)

I want to talk about the ending of the movie in the spoiler section but only read it if you have seen the movie already in one of its previous avatars or don’t care enough about it not to have it spoilt. But Siddique reminded me of Puri Jagganath director of Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap. Another director who overstretches his skills and his movie was only successful through the weight that the actors brought in. At least Puri made an orginal movie. Siddique has done this 3 times now and if it wasn’t for a strong action director, camera man and production team, he would not have been able to deliver.

Clearly not every South Indian director is Prabhu Deva.

For whoever is keeping final score for Bodyguard:

Dabanng ≥ Wanted > Bodyguard > Ready > Suryavanshi

Before I go into the spoiler section I want to go into a bit of tangent.

I do wonder how far we can stretch the southification of Hindi Film Cinema. Audiences will get tired of the inane comedy that just doesn’t make that much sense and every South Indian I have spoken with prefers the original version and feels the adaptation wasn’t done right. It would be an idea to take the time and effort to really adapt and distill the screenplays to local audiences and just change the timing of the comedy and emotional beats. Even the dialogues lack the punch when translated from a language they weren’t originally written in. Until now, the power of the stars has been able to drag these movies to box office success. Stars like Aamir, Salman and even Ajay have enough of a following to do so but what will happen when these movies have minor stars attached to it?

I am dreading seeing the promo’s for Force and I do not believe that people who loved seeing Surya in Kaakha Kaakha( which we reviewed) will enjoy pretty boy John Abraham in it.

I also understand the anger that some South Indian fans feel towards these movies which can only be described as a Mcdonaldisation of their cinema transforming it into a bland mongrel form of sustenance which only nourishes but does not fill the appetite.

When speaking with my twiter buddy Reena Mumbai from TwoMangoes (check out her blog by clicking here) about our obsession with pre- 50 Cent hip hop. It made me think of a song by Mos Def called Rock N Roll on his epic Black on Both sides Album, about how white America has appropriated much of black culture thanklessly.

“I said, Elvis Presley ain’t got no soul
Chuck Berry is rock and roll
You may dig on the Rolling Stones
But they ain’t come up with that style on they own”

I wouldn’t say we are there yet but I do hope more effort is put into adapting these movies in the future.

But can we at least get rid of the overweight sidekicks and inane slapstick comedy?

Spoiler Section: ( Really do not read before watching the movie)

  • There is unnecessarily convoluted twist at the end of the movie which is an example of the ineptitude of the writing. Not only does it just seem to give us the same result we were going to get 15 min earlier but it does so using one of the most thankless characters in the entire movie. This could very well be a prequel to Kuch Kuch Hota hai. It really sucks and annoyed me to no end. (oh I was really evil, and I now have this ailment that the writer doesn’t even take the time to name and could you please not tell your daddy I was evil oh bespectacled son)
  • I also wonder why did no one get any older? We don’t need them to pull a Veer Zaara but you could add some wrinkles or at least dress people differently, it seemed the scenes were just shot 2 days later but a 7 year old kid had suddenly appeared out of the blue.
  • The entire phone plot made me miss Karisma Kapoor so much. I hope she comes back soon and if we pray really hard maybe she will do a movie with Salman Khan again. I don’t think there was ever an actress he seemed more comfortable with or just had fun with and it showed on screen. It’s a shame because to think that way though as Bebo looks so pretty but did anyone else feel she was channeling a bit of Lolo on those phone scenes?

Let us know what you thought of Bodyguard and how they did adapting it from the previous versions in the comments section below

 

 

 

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Edinburgh Fringe top 10 jokes 2011

 

Edinburgh Fringe 2011

Since its inception in 1947, as an alternative (on the fringe of) to the Edinburgh International Festival, the Fringe  has grown to such gargantuan proportions that it is reportedly the largest arts festival in the world.

No longer attracting just the alternative arts performers and the up and coming British comedic talent, the Fringe now attracts the cream of the worlds stand-up talent.  Each year the top 10 jokes and gags are published and, rather than just give you the list, we’ve also given linked to the websites for each of the performers so you can check out the ones you like the most.

 Sit back and enjoy these quality gags from the world’s finest comedians and comedy writers.

1. Nick Helm – “I needed a password eight characters long so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.”  

2. Tim Vine – “Crime in multi-storey car parks. That is wrong on so many different levels.”

3. Hannibal Buress – “People say ‘I’m taking it one day at a time.’ You know what? So is everybody. That’s how time works.”

4. Tim Key – “Drive Thru McDonalds was more expensive than I thought … once you’ve hired the car …” 

5. Matt Kirshen – “I was playing chess with my friend and he said, ‘Let’s make this interesting’. So we stopped playing chess.”

6. Sarah Millican – “My mother told me, you don’t have to put anything in your mouth you don’t want to. Then she made me eat broccoli, which felt like double standards.”

7. Alan Sharp – “I was in a band which we called The Prevention, because we hoped people would say we were better than The Cure.”

8. Mark Watson – “Someone asked me recently – what would I rather give up, food or sex. Neither! I’m not falling for that one again, wife.”

9. Andrew Lawrence – “I admire these phone hackers. I think they have a lot of patience. I can’t even be bothered to check my OWN voicemails.”

10. DeAnne Smith – “My friend died doing what he loved … Heroin.”

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Salman Khan’s BodyGuard Interview for Upodcast!

Indian stars command a different level obsession than their western counterparts. The love and adulation we feel for “our favorites” combines the passion for a sportsteam with the myth of a rock star. We tailor our personal style, conversational idioms and day to day jokes towards them and every generation (even if they won’t admit it) has that one star that just sends them into a frenzy. My parents had Dilip Kumar, growing up we had Amitabh Bachchan but from adolescence there was only one name for me and that was Salman Khan.

The release of his Bodyguard is just around the corner (31st of August) and we had a podcast planned with him but then got diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, a very painful nerve disorder for which he had to fly out for treatment for the US. But Salman Khan “ne ek bar jo commitment kardi, toh phir woh apni bhi nahi sunta” (once he makes a commitment, then he doesnt even listen to himself) and  he took to answer some of our questions via email  just before he flew out. And truth be told, I don’t know if I could have contained my excitement if I had gotten a chance to speak with him. (Clearly Upodcast is a place for fans more than journalistic professionalism)

Sabka hai Ek Bhaijaan, here is the one and only Salman Khan in his inimitable style answering questions from yours truly.

Photo Credit: www.SalmanOnline.net

Sorry to hear about your ailment through the news. I hope you are well
and that it doesn’t hurt too much? How were you able to cope with it
through shooting?

Ya, did get unbearable at times… I had planned to get myself treated
after the shoot, post productions and promotions for Bodyguard are
completed. But now pain has become unbearable.

You have had a time honored equation with music over the years? Is
that just luck or do you have a musical ear? Did you sit down with the
music directors of Bodyguard and discuss what was needed?

Na I have been lucky… my music directors do a good job.

I have been lucky enough to have all the talented music directors
composing music for the songs that I dance to on screen. I had given
certain inputs in the song ‘Teri Meri’ but it was entirely Himesh’s
creative efforts that the song a creating a buzz among people.

Desi beat has a slight tinge (maybe a sample) of “Kabooter Ja Ja” from
Maine Pyar Kiya. Do you reminisce about some of your earlier roles? Do
you rewatch any of your older movies?

All I can say Desi Beats is a big success in India and overseas. I do
recall my roles at times as I did them because I liked the role but
now I am always looking forward to do something new and exciting.

Did you bring any of those sensibilities from older movies to
Bodyguard? Is there a Jaagruti -style jungle
training scene?

Bodyguard is a very different film. I think it is an innocent love
story. It is a good balance of emotions, romance action and drama. As
far as action in the film is concerned the entire credit goes to
Vijayan Master. He directed my wanted and dabbang and wanted to push
limits with this one too.

What were the roles you think you nailed but maybe didn’t work with
audiences as well? How do you deal with a movie when it doesn’t work?

Yes, film is to be approached with new enthusiasm and more motivation.
If the film turns a blockbuster it’s great and if it doesn’t you have
to move on. The number of people watching your film is directly
proportional to how good the film is. The intension is always to make
a good movie and positive responses definitely make me feel good.

Are there times whilst shooting that you know it’s not going well? And
if so is there sometimes you pull back?

There are hardships everywhere. Facing the obstacles is the only way
to overcome them. If things don’t go well at times you just have to
work your way around it rather than pulling back.

You have been doing action movies since the start of your career but
now since Wanted it had taken another level. What has changed in your
mind?

Wanted has certainly added a lot to my performance and enhanced my connect with the viewers. But every role brings something new to me intensifies my ability to act.

Is it the effect of your TV presence that you have created a closer
bond with your audience?

Television is definitely a vibrant medium and reaches to masses far
and wide. It has been a platform to reach the audience who probably
miss out on catching me on the larger screen.

From Baaghi to Veer and of course your much respected
father (Salim Khan), writing has been a part of your life. You have taken on
painting since a few years too. Do you feel that these are ways you
communicate with your fans and audience or is it more of an internal
process where you deal with your own thoughts?

Just as everyone develops certain interests at different points in
their lives I am drawn towards painting. I am interested in painting
as it is an art form that helps me to express myself.

What type of creative input did you have in Bodyguard as the
production team is family?

My first responsibility is with my audience then it is to producer.
Who is the producer is not important. Atul (Agnihotri, producer and Salman’s brother in law-ed) came with this script
before the Malayalam bodyguard was made. And we had decided to make it
in Hindi whatever may be the faith of Malayalam.

You started the trend of South indian remakes with Tere Naam. What do
you think needs to be adjusted or tweaked when remaking a South Indian
movie to North Indian audiences?

I have loved the subjects of all the remakes I have done so far. Tere
Naam and Wanted fetched quite good results this only indicates
audiences liked the concept and the films at large. I believe it is
entirely the film maker’s call. Bodyguard which is a remake of the
Malayalam version had drastic changes in the characterization and
these were Siddique’s efforts to bring the film in a fresh form to
Bollywood’s audiences.

Are there any South Indian stars or movies you are particularly fond of?

Rajnikanth with out doubt…

Would you ever consider making a work-out dvd for all your fans that
want to be buff like you?

Have not thought about it…

So I hope you enjoyed reading some of his answers. For more BodyGuard goodness you can check out our Podcast interview with Kareena Kapoor, his co-star.

Or of course catch Bodyguard in theatres in a couple of days in a theater near you!

 

Let us know what  you thought of Bodyguard after the jump!

Enhanced by ZemantaAnd thanks to our good friend Amaluu from Bollystalgia, a fellow Sallu fan who helped us out with some of the questions!
You can follow us on twitter or Facebook by clicking links on the left!
EID MUBARAK!

Hunger Games Teaser Trailer

Apparently the MTV awards were last night, an event of no relevance except to teens and people with too much time on their hands. Beyonce showed of her baby bump (fingers crossed it’s an amazing female rapper with the booty bouncing skills the world has ever seen) and the other exciting news was the first teaser for Hunger Games, the young adult trilogy of novels by Suzanne Collins, got released.

 

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Lenny Kravitz and directed by Gary Ross (SeaBiscuit, Pleasantville)  is releasing 23rd of March 2012 and we have the wonderful Jennifer Lawrence ( we have raved about her many times in our podcast, recently in episode 27 where we reviewed her performance amongts many in Xmen First Class )  present the video too.

There’s not much to see in the teaser but what we see is enough to get a vibe of what the movie will look like.

 

Here is a synopsis from IMDB

In a not-too-distant future, North America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. As the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss‘ young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.

We are currently stuck in the second book preparing for a dedicated podcast very soon, but we are slow reader so you will have to bear with us.

 

Are you excited for the Hunger Games?

Let us know in the comment section below

 

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AgneePath Trailer: Khoon se lath path!

Agneepath, the Amitabh version of the 1990’s, was always a very special movie for Dharma Productions and we had been hearing about the remake this time starring Hritik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt and Priyanka Chopra for a while now and today the first trailer has been released and it looks amazeballs! Being huge fans of the original, we wanted to see what this new take was going to be like and we must admit that most of our concerns have evaporated.

Sure audiences growing up with Amitabh’s legendary perfomance as Vijay Deenanath Chauhan will always be reticient of anyone taking on the role. Amitabh’s all white suit,the kohl in his eyes and the gravel in his voice when spitting out dialogues that have been quotable from the nineties. Shahrukh tried to give it his own twist in Ram Jaane, without Mukul Anand a director known for his large scale cinematic movies, you could only have a movie which was memorable for it’s leads performance but not much more.

Shahrukh also was the first out of the gate to remake an Amitabh movie, Don, of which the sequel is just around the corner. Although a massive success, critics were not favorable to the Khan filling in Amitabh’s shoes. ( I have high hopes for the sequel as they are stepping out of that large shadow)

 

So will this remake of Agneepath, share the same faith as Farhan Akhtar’s Don?

 

We don’t think so.

The original Agneepath is the story of Vijay Deenanath Chauhan, a village boy exiled from his native village where he was raised by the principles of his father, the much respected village school teacher. When some gangsters wants to take over the village as it’s ideally located as a port to Mumbai, Vijay’s father opposes them and he meets a cruel and very dishonorable end. Cast out and exiled with a mother and sister to take care of, Vijay is hardened by the streets of Mumbai until he becomes a gangster himself and vows to take back the village that was stolen from him, but to do so he must take on the debonair and cool drug lord Kancha Cheena.

From the trailer we can see that there are already quite a few elements from the orginal. We see the death of Vijay’s father but mostly the trailer focusses on Kancha Cheena this time played by a bulked up Sanjay Dutt.

The 90’s version of Agneepath, the whole middle portion of the movie was heavily inspired by Scarface and Danny Denzongpa was playing a desi version of suave Alejandro Sosa.  Here Sanjay is taking a very different take although he does seem to have the same ruthlessness that Danny showed in the original. Sanjay had a massive comeback where he played a villain in Subhash Ghai‘s Khalnayak years ago (Was he really a villain looking back though?) Could this do the same trick from him? He certainly looks quite menacing and could be the shot in the arm that Sanjay needs as his career has been dying a slow death lately.

We see a bit of Pryanka Chopra here too but it’s hard to understand what her role will be, the previous female protagonist was Madhavi who was a typical non essential female role as was the case in many 80- early 90’s movies.  I am sure being a Dharma favorite they will have a substantial role for her, but it’s not something we are seeing in this short clip.

What is there left to say about Hritik Roshan? The actor is so thorough and earnest in every role he takes on, there is no doubt for a second that he will dissapoint. He seems to have an army of Eunuchs accompanying him in some of the fights scenes. Maybe Vijay has been watching a lot of Sholay and has raised a hijron ki fauj?

Rishi Kapoor is in here too for a few frames and we think he’s playing a negative role, something else to applaud as his rolly polly uncle act was getting a bit old

Hritik and Sanjay have acted together in Mission Kashmir earlier and although the movie had a wide release ( there was even a copy in the video store in my college town in Belgium), it’s jingoistic themes didnt translate too well to any audience.

Apparently the movie is a reimagining of the original and you know Upodcast always celebrates remakes ( you can listen to our podcast about it, by clicking here). There is still that little Dharma polish to it that can get a bit irksome ( the color combinations) but since the movie is director by newcomer Karan Malhotra, we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

In any case this is only the first step in Dharma’s marketing machine but if they can deliver on the promise of this trailer, we are heading for a thoroughly great time in theaters.

AgneePath “ka audience ke saath appentment hai” 13 January 2012.

you can also follow the fun on Facebook or Twitter

 

Do you have high hopes for this remake? let us know in the comment section below?

 

 

 

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Win Tickets to BodyGuard Preview in London!

If you want to see a special preview before anyone else of Bodyguard and you can attend the screening in London, you have a chance to win a pair of tickets! Check out how you can win a pair of tickets just after the jump! Read More

Ep 34 Kareena Kapoor Bodyguard Interview

The one and only princess of Bollywood Kareena Kapoor graced us with her presence when she was in London promoting Bodyguard, her forthcoming movie with Salman Khan. And we got a chance to interview her for an exclusive Upodcast episode. Check out our chat with the ever radiant Bebo after the jump! Read More

Ep 33: Super 8, Captain America, Cowboys and Aliens and Friends With Benefits

Step right this way ladies and gentlemen, for the show of a lifetime. We’re not necessarily saying this is the BEST Upod to date (it is damned good of course), but more like there’s a lifetime’s stuff in this one! This weeks special guest is Adam Lowes from HeyUGuys, one of the most awesome FilmBlog on the net.  What didn’t we talk about in Episode 33 I wonder?

Read More

Review Aarakshan (Reservation)

After the unexpected box office success of last year’s Raajneeti, a political drama with a huge star cast taking influences from Indian Mythology and the Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather, director and auteur Prakash Jha is back with his intense brand of cinema with Aarakshan (Reservation) starring Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Manoj Bajpai and Deepika Padukone. This time he tackles the issue of reservation, the practice of setting jobs and positions aside for certain social classes who were left behind as a remnant of the old Indian Caste based society, a bit like affirmative action but not entirely. So is Prakash Jha able to entertain and educate us? Does the chemistry of Deepika and Saif Ali Khan work wonders again after Love Aaj Kal? Check out our review after the jump! Read More

Ep 32: Apocalypse Jaa or not your father’s Martial Arts movie

In this episode our gang of Upodcast Shaolin Monks is joined by the Ronin samourai Danny Bowes from Tor, taking you on a trip through crescent kicks and flying monkey styles through the different stages of the martial arts movie.

We start off speaking about some of the legends that shaped the genre from Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan to  Sonny Chiba. To action stars that took it one step further like Jean Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris and we even take a detour through Michael Dudikoff and Steven Seagal (not for long though)

The Gang then focuses its chi on the nouveau vogue of martial artists that have taken over the reins and we stand before the elephant shaped throne of Thai Action Star Tony Jaa.

We discuss his filmography in detail speaking about all of the Ong Bak movies, his difficult times and possible comeback.

Swiftly like the shadow we move to Donny Yen and the Ip- man series and finish off with Indonesian up and comer Iko Owais and his Pentak Silat debut Merentau.

Lots of excitement, and wear a helmet whilst listening to this episode as the verbal kicks might just knock you out!

Listen below or download!

Let us know which martial artists we forgot to mention or deserve more praise in the comment section below!

 

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Review Rise of the Planet of the Apes

When I first heard of another Apes movie planned, I didn’t feel I was the right audience for it. I almost have no affinity with animals in general, I don’t have or ever have had pets and I prefer giving money for human orphans than tortured bears or dying whales on top of that I was never a huge fan of the original Planet of the Apes series kicked off by the Charlton Heston‘s 1968 classic (the one of the most spoofed endings in film history) of which this Rupert Wyatt directed and starring James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto is a prequel to some sense. To further illustrate how much I don’t care about the original franchise I could even go as far as scarlet lettering myself in the film community by mentioning that I actually enjoyed the critically panned Tim Burton, Mark Wahlberg version of 2001. But something changed when I saw the first trailer and most of it was the performance and heart in the performance that you could see in the character of Caesar, the main chimpanzee played by now motion capture veteran Andy Serkis.

Something within the frames of the trailer where Caesar hugs a disheveled John Lithgow after an altercation with his neighbor just struck a chord with me.

The movie starts with unidentified poachers capturing some apes in a forest and from right from that point we can sense the frustration and panic of the animals in details that we know will be pulling our heart strings. James Franco plays Will Rodman a scientist for a pharmaceutical company whose music professor father (John Lithgow) is suffering from Alzheimer’s. He’s doing test on the animals to find a cure and while doing so he invents a strand that connects the synaptic chords of animals in the brain or some kind of weird science that we should just go with. As a result of his tests though he creates an chimp, Caesar, that’s smarter than the average child, which he then raises in secret in his home.

We see Caesar growing up in his house and becoming part of the family and not just a pet. Whilst Franco starts a relationship with veterinarian Caroline (Freida Pinto). After an altercation with one of the one-note human neighbors (which will have a big impact later on) Caesar’s animalistic sense of protection forces him to change homes to a primate shelter where he is the tormented and humiliated by Tom Felton, but more than that comes in contact with other apes for the first time and feels the sense of abandonment which leads to an ape uprising alluded to in the title.

Look at those eyes! Amazing work by Weta and Andy Serkis

It’s disconcerting when a movie makes you cheer for the demise of humanity. It does illustrate how we have changed as a society where we can root for these animals although there is no real pain that they are submitted too, the filmmakers hint at some bigger questions as animal testing for the purpose of human pharmaceutical improvement.

From the trailer what sold me was the performance of Andy Serkis Caesar and the technical wizardry that Weta, the company behind the effects in movies such as Lord Of The Rings, King Kong and Black Sheep (check out our very old podcast about that one! By clicking here). Caesar’s character arc from him growing and becoming an integral part of the family (there is an unbelievably touching scene with some cutlery and fried eggs) up to the sense of betrayal he feels right at the animal shelter, where he just can’t fall asleep so he draws a pillow on his cell wall, I have to admit even getting a lump in my throat just recalling the scene. Right up to the gathering of the troops of the apes at the Animal shelter and the final showdown,  we see such a range of complex and well defined emotions that Andy Serkis’ it has to be one of the best performances all year round.

Every Ape has its own character design, body movement and story arc. One of the best scenes is probably the silent communication between the apes and the power dynamics within the shelter. Even in all the awesome destruction of the climactic battle on the Golden bridge we can see which ape is which and all credit must go to Weta and the effects they have created.

The other performances are good but since the story is really based on the evolution of the Apes that almost all the human characters get the short shrift and this goes for James Franco and Freida Pinto. I can actually challenge you to remember any names of any of the characters except the boss of the pharmaceutical lab, I am sure you won’t be able to. Franco has been cemented in my mind as the stoner since Pineapple Express so it takes a bit of convincing to see him as a genetic scientist. There were moments in his performance that I thought, he s so confused that he needs to light up a jay to chill out and get his mind sorted. Freida Pinto is her sparkling self, unfortunately her character is not well etched out, playing the typical female supporting role but the moment she does appears on screen and flashes that beautiful smile you are completely smitten with her as Franco and Caesar are. The stand out human performance is John Lithgow, playing the Alzheimer ridden music professor although he sometimes goes over the top with his disheveled look most of his story arc is quite touching and he just has more to play with.

The worst performance is probably Tom Felton playing a dirtier version Draco Malfoy but without the magic powers. It’s not entirely his fault as he mostly serves as a plot device and to drive a very overt reference to the original movie that the actor is not yet ready to carry. There are a few other references hidden throughout the movie which are cute if you catch them but you don’t really need to have seen the original to appreciate Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

The movie is beautifully shot. From the scenes in the Redwood Forrest and Caesar looking over the city afar, the battle on the bridge and even some of the scenes in the neighborhood (the leaves falling on the street during the Ape attack) are breathtaking.

The pacing and the editing of the movie are great and it has been a while since I wanted to know the name of the director straight after I saw the movie. Although only made one previous movie the 2008 prison movie Escapist (which I haven’t seen but will seek out now) He delivers a complete and very plausible story with some iffy science but works within the world it creates.

This has really been the year of successful reboots that had very low expectations attached after Xmen First Class and now Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I do wonder what trend this will give us but for the time being we can at least enjoy a summer movie that isn’t super hero and delivers quite a bit more than we expected. It’s great fun even if you’re not sure you should be cheering those damn dirty apes basically taking over the world!

Spoiler Section:

The John Lithgow scene where he declines the second strand of the Alzheimer’s medicine is really touching and honestly got a bit dusty in the theatre.

Isn’t everything that happens entirely James Franco’s fault? There are quite a few moments that it becomes frustrating to see there is no real consequence paid to what he actually does and what it entails.

The movie poses some interesting questions on animal testing for the benefit of mankind without losing track that it is supposed to be a summer blockbuster. It does show how we have moved on as a society since the original movie came out and Heston could just unabashedly hate the animals.

The scene where Caesar speaks finally speaks is amazing, placed at the right time and really gives the kick off to all of the ill shit that happens. In contrast the final scene with James Franco where he speaks again is less well done but I didn’t want to take the away one of the only emotional beats Franco’s character had.

Freida Pinto is great in this! Haters to the left!

The final scene felt a bit Outbreakey so do stick around for the end credits where the virus goes Airborn!!!

 

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Ayaa Re Ayaa BodyGuard’s Item Song ft Katrina Kaif

We showed you some exclusive shots a couple of days ago( you can find the post by clicking here) and now the song itself has been released!

Check out a snippet from the much hyped Item song from BodyGuard starring of course Salman Khan flexing his muscles while wearing a fisherman’s cap and cut off denim shirt while 30 wet men are proclaiming him to be “sabse hot”! ( Not that there’s anything wrong with that). And we get a to see a bit of the beautiful Katrina Kaif bedazzling us with her smile in a recycled Sheila ki Jawaani Set. Check out the clip after the jump and enjoy!

 

Some thoughts:

The Soundtrack hasn’t really set the world on fire and this track is no different.

As the trailer for the movie showed, Bodyguard wants to fill in as many meta references to Salman Khan as possible as ride the gravy train to box office gold ( ie calling him “Bhaijaan”)

Is it me or is the choreography and the wardrobe very lazy? Did they run out of funding?

Fingers crossed that Bodyguars is more Wanted than Ready? (But I have to admit I’m worried that this might ne another Salman-Kareena misfire)

Let us know what you think of this new Item song in the comment section below!

You can follow more Bodyguars’ promo’s by subscribing to  T-series Youtube Channel!

 

 

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Stop Motion Street Figther: The most BadAss thing you will see today

Not much to say about this video except that it’s pretty amazing and you should totally check it out if you are a fan the arcade game Street Fighter. Some of the moves might seem from the Alpha Edition which isn’t my favorite but it always amazes me how much time people have to make these stop animations!

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Exclusive: Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif’s Item Song In BodyGuard

The buzz for Salman KhanKareena Kapoor starrer Bodyguard is on full swing! The trailers and song promo’s are out on all music channels. Now Upodcast has access to exclusive pictures of the Item Number with the wonderful Katrina Kaif stepping into her Sheila boots again. But there is another surprise appearance and that is Shera, Salman Khan’s Bodyguard for over a decade will also be getting his thumka on with Salman and Katrina. Check out these behind the scene images of the song being shot after the jump! Read More

Inbetweeners the Movie

Inbetweeners

Following 3 hugely successful series on Channel 4, the Inbetweeners faces its final curtain call with a film.  The show has been noted by some critics as being a far more accurate portrayal of the lame British male 6th form experience and of bland teenage suburbia, than the oft-feted Skins.  In just 3 short series (no more than 20 episodes in total) viewers (mainly male I’d guess) have come to love the 4 dysfunctional charcaters.  Maybe it is uncannily accurate and doesn’t try too hard, unlike Skins, which I never fell for.  However, much like the aforementioned other show on Channel 4, the Inbetweeners has also featured some damned fine music…the Ting Tings, the Jam, the Cure, MGMT and more

British audiences have already been teased with a short trailer for the feature being released on August 19th this summer.  Neil, Jay, Will & Simon will certainly leave us with a bang (I would have thought in more ways than one), having taken a typical lads holiday to Malia, in Crete.

 As the trailer doesn’t really give much away apart from Jay’s perving, whch we all know about already, we can only guess at what “gross-out” moments will be revealed.  But as the TV show has already given us moments of puking, drinking, dope-smoking and many other memorable moments, regular viewers will surely not be disappointed.  After all, the trailer does end with a quote from Jay: “You’d better bring your willies ’cause it’ll be knee deep in clunge” *

* For definition of clunge, please see Google, Zemanta doesn’t quite stretch to this unique British colloquialism.

Martin @martincawley

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Review Kaakha Kaakha (and what should be fixed for its Hindi remake “Force”)

So this 2003 cop drama starring Surya, Jyotika and directed by Gautham Menon was available on Youtube (probably temporarily so check it out!) on some extremely shady channel but with some funtastic “paagal” subtitles. Having lamented the fact that there is no proper distribution system set up for South Indian movies, making it impossible to be completely up to date with new releases. I take any chance I get to catch up with this flamboyant film genre. Releasing in September in a Hindi remake directed by Nishikanth Kamat starring John Abraham and Genelia. We analyzed the trailer in an earlier post, but now check out our review of the original after the jump! Read More