Month: July 2012

Kuroneko

Black cats, unlucky for some

As July draws to a close, so does the small-scale marathon I’ve undertaken at the British Film Institute this month. I’ve already written about a classic Japanese horror, Onibaba but last week I had the fortune to watch Kuroneko, another Japanese film from the same genre.

Very much a companion piece to Onibaba, Kuroneko is also directed by Kaneto Shindo – shot 4 years later and with two of the actors (Kei Sato and Nobuko Otawa).

This brief synopsis shows the similarities of the 2 movies: a woman & daughter in-law live in a hut, on the edge of some woods and, as with Onibaba, we learn that the daughter’s husband is away fighting in the civil war. A group of soldiers appears, helping themselves to food and water before raping and killing the 2 women. We see a black cat licking at the two bodies and the hut is burned to the ground. Some time later, samurai start to die mysteriously.

And that, however, is where the similarities end.  I noted the almost claustrophobic feeling of Onibaba and Kuroneko spares us this.  It is a more open film, not with its head down in the reeds and rushes and is able to at least let us feel like we can breathe.  Whilst not particularly pleasant, one of the stand-out scenes for me is the opening sequence.  We see a group of soldiers emerge from the forest; the sound is silent & we can can hear only the wind in the trees.  Once the men reach the water, they bend down, like animals to a trough.  The sound is enhanced and there is no dialogue, just the noises of the slurping as their thirst is slaked.  Once the men enter the hut, there is also little if no conversation – merely grunting as the men help themselves to the women’s food, before the rape.  The scene ends as the soldiers retreat back to the forest – assimilated back from whence they came – and the hut is left to burn to the ground.

One of the clever tricks that Shindo plays is to tell us that the women have been taken over by the (vengeful) spirit of the demon as a black cat, without showing us fully.  We see glimpses of a long mane of hair, feline features from a distance or a hair covered arm, but never “cat women” as such.  Indeed, there is a scene near the end, that sent a full on chill right the way down my spine and is the culmination of all of these clever little shots.

I really enjoyed Kuroneko, possibly more so than Onibaba even.  It’s never going to rival anything from the modern horror catalogue – Saw, The Ring, Nightmare on Elm Street etc – in terms of blood and gore, but it has the feeling of being crafted, of being a film about human nature, myth and superstition.  It does of course have its moments of absolute terror (and humour) and so to have started my journey into Japanese horror movies with these two fine examples, makes me feel a tad lucky.  Next stop on the journey will have to be Kwaidan, Masaki Kobayashi‘s renowned shocker from 1964.

@martincawley

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Celebrating the Legends from 100 years of Bollywood UK Concert Dates Announced!

The Awesome Roop Kumar Rathod (I still regularly rock “Tujme Rab Dikta Hai” From Rab Ne Banadi Jodi) and his wife Sonali Rathod will be touring the UK and picking up some selected songs throughout the 100 years of Bollywood Music. Together with a live band they will be giving their own renditions of classics by Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Talat Mahmood and Noor Jehan as well as some of his own repertoire of Bollywood songs.

Dates are announced for Leicester, Birmingham and London and find info on how to book tickets and some excerpts from the press release below:

According to Roop and Sunali, “We are thrilled that Saregama Events are doing this. We are completing 100 years of Indian cinema next year, but if we try to count the names and pay homage to all those responsible it will take another 100 years. So in our own innovative style, we will sing not only our own popular numbers but also gems from the Golden era of cinema.”

With a fan following of millions around the globe, the likes of Rafi, Lata, Talat and Noor need little introduction. Nevertheless, Saregama recognizes the importance of showcasing India’s classic singers and songs.

Modern Bollywood music fans will recognise Roop Kumar Rathod as the voice of superstar Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai’ from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, ‘Tere Liye’ from Veer Zara, ‘Maula Mere Maula’ from Anwar, the award winning ‘Sandesein Aate Hai’ and ‘To Chaloon’ from Border, ‘Barson Yaaron’ from London Dreams, ‘Vatna Ve’ from Pinjar, ‘Dil Ko Tumse Payar Hua’ from Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein, ‘Zindagi Maut Na Ban Jaye’ from Sarfarosh, ‘Salaam Aya’ from Veer and most recently ‘O Saiyaan’ from Agneepath 2012. Also a veteran of ghazal, bhajans, Sufi and light classical genres, together with his wife Sunali, Roop has performed numerous stage concerts around the world and been given the accolade of one of the finest voices in the industry.

Equally talented and a charming soul mate to Roop is Sunali Rathod. Sunali began to sing at a young age of seven and received formal training in Indian Classical music at the age of twelve from Pandit Ridnath Mangeshkar (brother of Lata Mangeshkar). Well known in the classical and ghazal genres, Sunali’s perfectionist nature and vast knowledge of Indian cinema and music has made her the ideal companion to Roop. Her solo ghazal album, Aghaaz, may have catapulted her to fame, but it is Sunali’s love for all kinds of contemporary music that contributes to her versatility.

 

Roop and Sunali have of course synchronised their artistry by releasing several acclaimed albums including Ishaara, Sun Zara, Velvet Voices and Mann Pasand.

Leicester: Fri 07 Sept, 2012, De Montfort Hall, Click here for tickets

Birmingham: Wed 05 Sept, 2012, Symphony Hall, Click here for tickets

London: Sat 08 Sept, 2012, HMV Hammersmith Apollo, Click here for tickets

@asimburney

 

 

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Raaz 3 Poster

Not a huge fan of this genre of movies but at least the soundtrack will be ace looking at the people involved and when can you ever get enough of Bipasha Basu.

The poster seems like a zombie version of Janet Jackson’s 1993 Album ” Janet” handed over to a secondary school student who dabbles in Photoshop

But probably the most scary part of the poster are the words “3D” and directed by Vikram Bhatt.

But in any case BIPASHA!

@asimburney

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Bollywood Catch Up: Heroine, Son Of Sardaar, Jism 2 ,Ek Tha Tiger

Here is a write up we wrote for HeyUGuys so slightly adapting (adding the Jism 2 promo as you never have enough Sunnyshine in your life)  and reposting since we already posted the Joker Trailer, but do head over to HeyUGuys if you want our thoughts in more detail.

Plus it’s another opportunity to gaze at those awesome Heroine posters!

Ek Tha Tiger New Song Promo: Banjaara

As I mentioned on twitter: “Can we just go ahead and give a nobel prize to who ever thought of putting Katrina Kaif in a kilt?” and a long slit black skirt…and a yellow and black hockey outfit (I know it’s not hockey but seriously what are you guys paying attention to??) In all seriousness, the promos are getting better and better and I can’t wait for Ek Tha Tiger!

Son Of Sardaar Trailer:

Not too hot about this one although I do like all the stars involved. I don’t know what it is. Maybe the boring voice over or just having seen Ajay Devgn fight bad guys hanging on a wire for what feels like decades. Also not too hot on the Sonakshi- Ajay pairing, maybe we need to see more to get me excited.

The thing I am super psyched about is seeing Juhi Chawla back on screen! Hai Allah, JUHI CHAWLA!

 

Jism 2: Dialogue Promos

If I have one pet peeve it’s really bad dubding, probably one of the reasons I never watched any pakistani movies. And although the voice of Sunny Leone was supposed to be Dubbed by director Pooja Bhatt herself, it doesnt seem to be the case in these promos, unless her accents has vastly improved since her movie career.

Randeep Hooda has the usual expression “Why Do I not get better movies”-expression on his face, the actors actors seem to have no idea what the vocab being used actually means which in the case of the wonderful Sunny Leone is probablyt the case. Still looking forward to this one but should stick to just listening to the pretty amazing soundtrack! Ali Azmat Woot Woot!

 

Heroine Posters:

Trying her hardest to not make this movie still feel like the “one Aishwarya walked out” of Kareena Kapoor ,who we all have to admit is the bigger draw for audiences, looks absolutely ravishing on these first few posters. The trailer should be releasing any time now. Looks pretty, pretty, pretty good!

Let us know what you think about the posters and trailer in the comment section below!

@asimburney

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Tut Gaya Dil- RDB’s Kuly Tribute Track

We usually don’t dabble in obituaries as it seems a bit tasteless but Kuly was such a nice guy we wanted to at least post this.

 

Here is the tribute track by Smooth featuring Nindy Kaur (his sister in law) and the attached press release:

 

 

Bollywood Songstress Nindy Kaur’s Musical Tribute to RDB Brother Kuly

International Urban-Bhangra artist Nindy Kaur will lend her soulful voice to a special song in memory of RDB’s Kuly Ral.

The moving song, titled ‘Tut Gaya Dil’, features the vocal talents of rising urban rap star Smooth, whose collaboration on Nindy’s track Aloo Chat saw him come to the attention of music moguls around the world. He was immediately signed to the RDB label Three Records Ltd to work on new material, with his debut being a feature on Nindy’s tribute track to Kuly.

The track has been written by Nindy, Smooth and Kuly’s father Harjog Singh, and is scheduled for release later this month through Three Records Ltd.

Nindy said of the project: “Not only did I lose my brother-in-law but a true friend, my biggest support and studio buddy. The atmosphere in the studio will never be same.

“I had to pour out my feelings to Dad (Harjog Singh) when writing my lines, and I must say Dad did an amazing job of writing those emotion filled lines. Smooth is like a brother and we’ve shared many good times with Kuly when making songs like Aloo Chaat. When he asked me to be part of this song there was no way I would ever refuse. Smooth defines talent and his lyrics throughout the track sum up everything we are going through”.

Billed as a ‘one to watch’ star for 2012, Nindy has successfully released her first two hit singles from her debut solo album, Nindypendent, which entered straight into the number one spot. Earlier this year, she came to the attention of mainstream music pundits with the release of Save The World, a fusion track of pure adrenaline dance coupled with Nindy’s trademark Punjabi kick, produced by the Canadian music group Culture Shock behind hits for Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Nicole Scherzinger.

Kuly’s tribute track ‘Tut Gaya Dil’ is available for download at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DCw8L4yUwc
Follow Nindy on Facebook and Youtube by clicking on the following links:
www.NindyKaur.com
www.Facebook.com/NindyKaurRDB
www.Youtube.com/NindyKaurOfficial

Quite Sad!

Do check out the interview we did with him earlier by clicking here, I’m sure you will agree he was an all round awesome dude!

@asimburney

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Now is the time for Now TV

Another Upod exclusive?  That’s right folks – we really do suffer so you don’t have to.  Upod attended a little launch for Now TV yesterday evening, appropriately held in London’s Film Museum in Covent Garden.  We were treated to in-person demos of the new service in a re-created house, which was pretty cool.

Building on the increasing popularity of watching TV over the internet, NOW TV will offer access to Sky Movies – the UK’s most popular subscription movies service – in a new way. It is easy, flexible and great value – with no contract, set-up costs or installation fees.

The service is available to anyone in the UK with a broadband or 3G connection across a wide range of connected devices including PC, Mac and selected Android smartphones from launch; with iPhone, iPad, Xbox, Roku streaming players and Sony Playstation 3to follow. Each device has an optimised design to deliver quality streaming with buffering minimised by the use of adaptive bitrate technology.

Nice & uncluttered, unlike some others...

For total flexibility, NOW TV customers can ‘pay & play’ for instant access to an extensive range of over 1,000 movies through Sky Store including the very latest ‘now on DVD’ releases and much-loved classics.  From launch, ‘now on DVD’ titles will include recent releases such as We Bought a Zoo, The Woman in Black, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, This Means War and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. ‘Pay & play’ movies on NOW TV range from 99p for classic titles to £3.49 for the latest blockbusters.

For an all-you-can-watch experience, NOW TV also offers the monthly Sky Movies Pass with instant and unlimited access to the entire Sky Movies collection. At any time, customers with a Sky Movies Pass can choose from over 600 movies, including recent blockbusters and classics from major Hollywood studios such as Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, Warner Bros., and Universal.  Each Friday, there are up to five new and exclusive Sky Movies premieres, at least 12 months before they are available on other online subscription services. In fact, Sky Movies offers customers access to around three-quarters of the year’s top 100 UK box office movies.  At launch, the Sky Movies Pass comes with unlimited, instant access to titles such as X-Men: First Class, Bridesmaids, Green Lantern, Cowboys and Aliens and many more.

Now TV likes your Android very much

Available to anyone in the UK with an internet connection, NOW TV will launch tomorrow on PC, Mac and selected Android smartphones; on iPhone, iPad within the next month, on Xbox later this summer and YouView when it launches. NOW TV will continue to develop for other platforms and devices, including Sony Playstation 3 and Roku streaming player, with further announcements to follow.

So, if you’re like me and you don’t want to commit to a whole package and a year long buy-in, then this really could be for you.  The Sky TV content is a massive coup and being able to pick and choose your content is fantastic.  I also know from speaking with the guys, that they intend to to be very customer friendly, so no quibbles over refunds!

 

For more info, please visit www.nowtv.com and also on Twitter #nowtv @nowtv

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The Amazing Spiderman Review Upodcast

Not just a pretty face

New Episode Of UPODCAST is LIVE: One the most recognisable and enduring of the Marvel super-heroes, Spiderman, makes a welcome return to our big screens with Mark Webber’s The Amazing Spiderman.  Upod shines its bright light on Hollywood’s most recent re-boot and asks “is the re-boot too soon?” and how it compares to the Sam Raimi beasts that precede it.  We take a closer look at the inner workings of the film and some hints of that follow.

Andrew Garfield picks up Tobey Maguire’s nerdy baton and then proceeds to throw it away; eschewing shyness for a more assertive role.  And things are the same for Emma Stone‘s Gwen Stacey – given far more sass than Kirsten Dunst ever was.  Once again we return to the Brits for bad-guy inspiration, with Rhys Ifans‘ Dr Curt Connors terrorising New York as The Lizard.

In addition to those leads, the casting also includes Josiah Bartlet and Sally Field as Peter Parker’s uncle and aunt and Denis Leary as Chief of Police (& Gwen’s father).  That’s a bloody decent set of parents and we haven’t even mentioned Irfan Khan’s somewhat under used and shady Dr Ratha.  More of him to follow in the next two installments?  It would be good to see.

So, what lies in store?  A good, but not great, blockbuster that has been re-shaped into something that we at Upod thought should have been all along.  There’s enough to keep all but the harshest critics happy and the makers have sewn the seeds for the next two parts.  Not as innovative as the Christopher Nolan Batman Begins re-make, The Amazing Spiderman nevertheless ticks all the right boxes and gives us a film more grounded in our reality than before.

Check out our new Upodcast below or subscribe in iTunes to never miss one!

 

@martincawley

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Brandon Generator: Part 4

A new breed of hero

The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator: episode 4 

As you will have already seen from a couple of blog previous posts, Brandon Generator is easily the best collaborative project that Microsoft have worked on to inspire people to learn more about the latest web technology and the web in general. Not only for creatives but also the wider web audience, IE9 is a fantastic showcase for all that is good about browsing and the web experience.

to re-cap: Edgar Wright (Spaced, Sean of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim…) and Tommy Lee Edwards (Marvel illustrator extraordinaire – Turf, Batman…) worked on The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator, a story about far too much coffee consumption, writers block and an escape into fantasy.

Feeding us the story is the narration of Julian Barratt (mighty boosh, Nathan Barley…) with the soundtrack provided by David Holmes (this film’s crap let’s lash the seats, Ocean’s 11 etc soundtracks). After the first episode “aired” online, parts 2 – 4 were to be crowd-sourced and co-created by members of the public. Edgar and Tommy would take submitted ideas – written, voicemails and drawings – pull out the best/funniest and work them into the story for the coming episode.

 

So, back to episode 4, the final installment. Upodcasting was kindly invited to a launch party for episode 4, at the suitably atmospheric Farmiloe Building in London’s Farringdon. Perfectly replicating Brandon’s apartment we were treated to a wonderful display of various storyboards and original artworks from the creative process; not to mention a vintage e-type Jaguar (that Brandon drives) and interactive displays about the making of and the episodes themselves.

The highlight of the evening though, was of course the screening of the final episode. Thankfully the organisers saw sense, read my mind and played all 4 back to back for the first time. Introducing the part film-short, part animation, part graphic novel, part… was Mark Kermode, well known hater of 3D and respected film critic from the BBC. I have to admit I was very excited to see all 4 in sequence and I have to take my hat off to all concerned – what a fabulous project to have been involved in.

Following the show, we were treated to a Q&A with all 4 of the creative forces, who despite having worked on Brandon Generator since the beginning of the year, had never been in the same room together until Wednesday evening. I’ll share 2 of my highlights from the session – when asked what browser they all used, only Edgar Wright had the sense to say IE9, but that he couldn’t comment on versions 1 to 8. The others all looked a bit sheepish at this point I have to say! And also, because I think the guy is a genius, David Holmes, when they were all asked what they ate when working / creating responded with “well I smoke a lot of weed…so whatever I can get my hands on”. An audience effectively wet itself.

So, what of Brandon himself? Does he get out of his scrape and who is the mysterious Victoria Mews? You’ll have to find out by going here and ideally use IE9 to get the best from the experience – it’s worth installing just for this, it really is. Talking to Gabby Hegarty the IE manager for the UK, it was clear that this was one work project that no-one had a problem getting motivated for; a perfect chance for everyone to flex their creative muscles. Let’s hope that IE9 can bring that spirit to the rest of the web.

You can find episode 4 here and of course all 4 parts will be released as a whole very soon.

@martincawley

 

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Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum)

Take it from him, I dare you

Tin Drum

AKA Martin’s continuing voyage into yet more “weird old movies”.  If you thought I might have struggled with Onibaba‘s oddities and very loose write-up then that was a cake walk by comparison to what follows.  At least there is nothing really to hold back from in terms of plot / story and spoilers with Tin Drum.  Die Blechtrommel as known in its native Germany is one of the most startling films I’ve ever seen (along with Old Boy and Last Year in Marienbad).
Based on the acclaimed novel by the same name, from Gunter Grass, Tin Drum recounts the life of Oskar, a young boy who, when he sees the adult world around him does not like it one bit.  Aged 3 he is given a tin drum by his mother, but in disgust at the thought of becoming an adult, throws himself down a staircase and stops growing thereafter.  Oskar’s life runs parallel to the rise of the Nazis in Germany and this is where the allegory at the core of the novel lies.
For someone so young Oskar shows a remarkable ability to manipulate those around him in order to maintain what is essentially his deception.  Constantly banging on his tin drum he is disruptive at the threat of it being taken away, screeching and screaming at such a pitch that he can shatter and etch glass at will.  This makes for memorable scenes, although I do confess to wanting to snatch the wretched thing away from him, smash it to pieces and send him to bed early.
The film is set in Danzig (modern day Gdansk), the so-called free city in Poland, between the world wars.  Reflecting the duality of this setting are Oskar’s 2 fathers; the biological father being a Pole and the familial being a German.  As Oskar grows – he remains in the child’s body – so we see the return to growth of the German economy and in turn Nazism.  Not even Oskar’s drumming can prevent the march of Hitler – despite his wreaking havoc at a local rally, by making the other musicians play out of time and switch from a military march to a Viennese waltz.  A standout scene in the movie, in part for its outright humour and obvious subversion of something we know to be malevolent.  He is of course, ultimately powerless to stop the events of Kristallnacht and the armed struggle at the Polish post-office in Danzig, unfolding: both depicted in Blechtrommel.
As Oskar grows (remaining in the same body) and develops the film shows us some potent sexual images that would have the MPAA foaming at the mouth.  And I use this expression deliberately.  For the squeamish there is also a scene involving a horses head and some eels: you have been warned.  Equally, it is fair to say that as much as Oskar develops emotionally, he remains stunted in many ways.  Indeed, we can attribute the death of at least 3 people directly to his refusal to countenance any kind of growing up and taking wider responsibility for his childish actions.
I won’t divulge the ending of the movie.  Not because it’s a spoiler, but because the film doesn’t span the whole life of Oskar, as per the book.  Indeed, I have omitted many memorable scenes, not least the opening sequence which is mirrored in the closing scene.  I hope that what I have tried to explain thus far is intriguing enough to put this movie on your watch list – it is genuine work of art that will sustain multiple viewings – and reading the book.  Dark, strange and unpleasant as it may be, we are all the better for this movie existing at all.  Quite who would have the gumption to produce this nowadays I don’t know.  Maybe it is a product of its time – certainly the 70s were an incredible period in cinema (German in particular) – and perhaps it’s a one-off.  The scope and ambition in transferring this from page to celluloid is to be admired and I look forward to someone having the same vision in our own times.  Volker Schlondorff was approached to direct based on his previous good form in adapting novels for the big screen, but when it comes to contemporary directors I have no suggestions whatsoever.
Mesmerising, gruesome, unpleasant, bewildering but richly rewarding and haunting, The Tin Drum is certainly one the finest pieces of cinema I’ve seen.
@martincawley
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Joker First Trailer

It’s finally out, the trailer of the movie I was most looking forward to before Ek Tha Tiger snuck up on me with ninja awesome awesomeness.

I’m currently at my 10th rewatch so will be posted a longer post on HeyUGuys, for the moment just watch and enjoy!

 

@asimburney

Onibaba

Onibaba, Japanese for "strange movie"

Onibaba

On a strong recommendation from a friend, I signed-up to watch this 1964 black and white Japanese movie. I didn’t know the director, the actors or the plot so this was the movie equivalent of a blind tasting. It’s a simple tale, set in 14th century Japan and based on a Buddhist parable.  A mother (Nobuko Otowa) and daughter in law (Jitsuko Yoshimura), live a detached existence, killing marooned samurai on their way through a vast reed-bed, in order to make a living by selling their armour and weapons to a local usury. But, for all its simplicity, Kaneto Shindo gives us a fable-like story interweaving lust, jealousy, fear, social-exclusion and death.

Set almost solely in amongst the reeds, the film becomes oppressive very quickly; the camera is rarely above the height of the reeds and with the constant sound of the wind rushing through the leaves. A nagging and sighing rustle and harsh whisper from which we really only escape when we see the characters in their hut haunts us throughout. This oppression is in turn reflected in the heat that becomes unbearable at night, making even sleep a difficult task. The sounds of the reeds is sometimes broken with music, but this is not a release as such; a jarring, gutteral burst of drums and percussion and screeching woodwind.

There is seemingly no escape; we will forever be held captive, a prisoner to the surroundings and inhuman way of life.

When a neighbour (Kei Sato) returns from war, telling of how the husband (and son) has died, so begins the breakdown of the relationship between the two women. One lusts and is lusted after, but the elder’s advances are spurned and the seeds of a bitter jealousy are sewn. As the sexual and social tension rises so this film shows us more gruesome and grotesque sides to human nature.

To reveal more will spoil the movie entirely, for it is certainly best seen first of all, with only a slight clue as to story and conclusion. An unusual film and although not horrific in terms of outright images – blood, guts, gore etc – is unsettling and strange. One for the curious and horror genre fans amongst us and ultimately very satisfying. I will be watching another Shindo horror – Kuroneko – later this month and will also post my thoughts.

@martincawley

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Some Like It Hot

Some Like it Hot. 

I know which one I'd sleep with

Although in Britain this “summer” we seem to like it mild and a bit damp. A members exclusive screening at the BFI seems like the perfect kick-off to a month of intense viewing on London’s Southbank. Part of the joy I guess, about seeing these old movies on the big screen is that I get to see films I have already seen on TV and in this case, seen on TV a long time ago. I get to re-assess my initial reaction as a teenager; now with a far greater volume of movies watched and in theory much more knowledge of moviemaking and movies.

As for the movie itself, it has “must watch” written all over it. The opening scenes echo the Warner Bros. gangster films of the ’30s and as the film unfolds, the gender stereotypes of ’50s America are gently subverted; anticipating the revolution that the ’60s would bring. This sounds quite serious, but the reality of Some like It Hot is the genius comedy brought to the screen. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis play Gerry and Joe / Daphne and Josephine (and Shell Oil Junior) , two broke musicians on the run from the mob after having witnessed a Valentine’s Day massacre in Chicago. The only way to escape is to join an all female jazz band who have a 3 week gig in Florida; meeting Marilyn Monroe‘s Sugar Kane (a ukulele player with a taste for liquor and sax players) along the way.

Will their true identities be revealed, will they escape from the mob? In the end this conceit becomes irrelevant – the sheer brilliance of the physical humour (men dressed as women, what’s not to find hilarious?) and the interaction between Sugar, Daphne and Josephine is all we really need. The lightness of touch by Billy Wilder is remarkable – the screenplay and direction of the 3 main protagonists seems so natural despite the obviously unreal scenario and I was stunned when I found out the movie pushes just over the 2 hour mark. Very much a case of “oh really, a 2 hour movie?” as opposed to “oh no, a 2 hour movie”.

If you’re looking for a true classic to cross off your list, with a great director, great actors and that is pure entertainment, then your search is over. Thoroughly recommended.

@martincawley

 

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Aaranya Kaandam Review at LIFF 2012

Yet another gangster flick made its London Premiere (the other one being Gangs of Wasseypur) at the London Indian Film Festival. And like a moth to the flame, I sniffed my way to the cinema screen to witness one of best selections of the festival overall. Director Thiagarajan’s “Aaranya Kaandam” (referring to the ‘jungle chapter’ in the Ramayana) throws away all the rules in the rule-book, and narrates a story so compelling, that we are bound to lend him our ears and eyes. Soaked in dark hues, this gangster flick set in the grit and dirt of Chennai, bypasses all set clichés and stereotypes associated with the genre.

The story circles around the rivalry between drug-lords of Chennai. In the red corner (there is a lot of red), is Singamperumal aka Ayya (Jackie Shroff)- impotent, dangerous, and a mental freak complete with a signature smile that shows the ins and outs of his lack of dental hygiene. He beats his mistress Subbu (Yasmin Ponappa), and bemoans her fate with the timid Sappai (Ravi Krishna). Sappai and Subbu fall in love. And in the blue corner, is the gang of the Gaj brothers – Gajendran and Gajapati, one uglier than the other. And we are also told of the legend of Gajendran. (You’ve got to find that out for yourself).

But when it comes to gangster films, nothing is as simple as just two opponents battling it out. Thrown in the mix are Pasupathy (Sampath Raj), Ayya’s lead henchman,who comes up with a stolen drug deal, which actually belongs to the Gaj brothers. And this sets the ball rolling for the rest of the movie which moves at an insane pace, jumping across the numerous characters and building up to a climax that wraps it all in, in a very satisfying way.

I am trying hard not to reveal much about this movie, because I’m concerned if that will dilute your experience. You should sit through this movie, without any prior knowledge of it, just like I did, and just let yourself get consumed by its sheer powerful imagery. Be it from Jackie Shroff’s relentless and no-holds-barred portrayal of a gangster struggling to “keep up” even when he’s way past his prime, to the little kid Kodukkapuli (Master Vasanth) whose smile and tears can melt your heart.

Aaranya Kaandam quenches that thirst for something “new” to watch. With stylish cinematography and action choreography, as well as an anime inspired moody omnipresence, Thiagarajan’s array of quirky, mad and loud characters come to life in their rawest form. Accompanied by a rocking background score, dollops of humour, and razor sharp dialogues, Aaranya Kaandam breathes life into the jungle of Chennai and its wildlife. For a debut feature, this is a must-watch.

Verdict: Blood Spurting 4 out of 5

Check out more of Sujoy’s work at OneKnighStand and Bollypop!

For more about the London Indian Film Festival head over to their website or twitter feed!

Let us know what you thought of the review in the comment section below and do continue to check out Upodcast for more coverage of the LIFF!

@asimburney

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Jism 2 Promo and Stills: Scorchio!

The promo’s for Jism 2 have pretty much taken the internet by storm and mostly because of the presence of the beautiful Sunny Leone making her feature film debut in Bollywood.

The acceptance that was shown to her Big Brother India appearance and subsequent popularity was quite surprising but now that the movie is close to coming out, director Pooja Bhatt seems to be battling with the conservative censor boards and focusing most of her marketing towards the internet.

Two of the song promos released are pretty amazing, visually lush and accompanied by some great tracks, especially  “Yeh Jism” sung by Pakistani vocalist (and media personality) Ali Azmat. The soundtrack is composed by Arko Pravo Mukherjee, first time music director who used to be a surgeon before this according to Pooja Bhatt’s tweets! And knowing the Bhatt’s excellent taste in music this will be definitely one to look out for!

The plot summary is:

A porn star is hired by a dashing intelligence officer to become a ‘Honey-trap’ for a dreaded assassin. In doing so, she not only has to confront her bitter-sweet past, but is also forced to make an impossible choice – one that will put her own life in double jeopardy.

Here are the promos and some more production stills from the movie. And I must say, they are bound to get you hot under the collar.

 

Jism 2 releases in Cinemas August 3.

@asimburney

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