Month: August 2012

Hunger Games Upodcast

A podcast we recorded earlier this year but never got a chance to post it, but now since Hunger Games has just released on DVD and Blu Ray, we thought it was the right time to revisit our chat with this episode’s guest avid Young Adult novel devourer and Harry Potter expert Anandini from Potterpensive.tumblr.com and Bollystalgia as well as all round awesome internet person Erin Georgiana, check out her Vlogs on YouTube.

We talk about the how the Hunger Games franchise stands up against other YA novels, if the book are better than the movie, what we hope and expect from the next installments and some of the major controversies and critics about the movie adaptations.

The Article from MovieCityNews we mention in our show can be found here.

 

Check out Amaluu’s  work on Potterpensive.tumblr.com, or follow her on twitter!

Erin on eringeorgina.com and her twitter handle is here!

Listen/download/stream the show below and let us know in the comment section what you thought of our chat!


@asimburney

 

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Kamal Khan, in search of his queen of angels

Kamal Khan, Pariyon Ki Rani

British Asian actor, Kamal Khan, is preparing to take the music industry by storm with the release of his debut single and music video, Pariyon Ki Rani.

“Pariyon Ki Rani is a soulful hindi love ballad about meeting someone special and not knowing when you’ll see them again” is the way Kamal likes to describe it. Produced by UK’s music maestro, Sumeet Chopra who has worked with world famous Bollywood playback singers such as Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Mahalaxmi Iyer and Shankar Mahadevan to name a few.

His versatile voice allows Kamal to easily adapt to both Hindi and English music, appealing to multi-cultural audience.

Born and raised in the UK, Kamal’s passion for music took him to Hollywood to be close to the heart of the movie-making and performing arts industry. “Having performed extensively in the USA at festivals over the last few years, it was finally time to unleash something to the world”

You may recall Kamal Khan as the “South Asian Face” that appeared in Ford commercials which were played throughout the UK. Others recall the dashing Royal Navy officer that made appearances all over UK and European networks.  I suspect however that for British audiences he will be best remembered for his roles in The Bill (a long-running but now ended Police procedural soap-opera) and of course Eastenders (a long-running and still running soap opera set in London’s east end).

His biggest breakthrough came when Kamal flourished the stage in the West End Fringe, playing the lead of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. The UK Press praised his abilities to succeed as a South Asian actor in the Shakespearean world in articles entitled “Asian Actor Plays Lead Role in Shakespearian Play”.

For enquiries, please contact Sohail Anjum www.sohailanjum.com

@martincawley

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Ek Tha Tiger Review

Yash Raj Films (YRF) and Salman Khan finally come together for the first time under the direction of Kabir Khan to bring us the story of what happens when a RAW Agent called Tiger starts using his “heart” when he has been trained to use his “head”. As usual with our reviews we have a separate spoiler section below so does this Tiger miaow or roaarrr, find out below!

 

Bollywood has been going spy crazy lately, starting with Don 2 (although that wasn’t really a spy movie but it ripped off many ideas from it) followed by Agent Vinod and a medium budget heroine driven movie (that I won’t be mentioning by name as it would spoil a big reveal), now comes Ek Tha Tiger (ETT), which from the first teaser trailer got catapulted to our “most looked forward”-movies of 2012.

ETT succeeds where the likes of Agent Vinod failed, is it delivers a movie that works within Bollywood conventions (sometimes to it’s detriment) and by not having it’s head up it’s own ass. This is big budget, big screen movie making, people. Where every shot looks pristine like it’s been scrubbed with Dettol, all the way from the locations to the actor’s faces. The dancers dance in sync, the fights are epic and in YRF tradition, we travel around the world without giving ourselves a Turkish makeover.

 

There are moments that feel like a compromise made by either the director Kabir Khan (who has a background in documentary film making and almost makes us sense his distain for selling out), star Salman Khan (who does not want to unleash the success he has tasted in recent years from his jaws like he lost a bet to one of the other Khan’s (and production house Yash Raj Films (who just can’t seem to find a consistency in it’s success ratio) so is trying out everything they can, even working with a star that they had until now not considered YRF material and one that they clearly can not control in any way possible.

 

The movie is segmented in very clearly delineated chapters in the screenplay, each with a different mood, location and wardrobes that sometimes gel together and sometimes don’t.

We start of, in the greatest of James Bond tradition, with action packed prologue set in Northern Iraq, where Tiger needs to deal with a double agent who has been selling RAW secrets to the ISI but essentially this is just a teaser to the bad ass-dom of the central character and has no further baring to the rest of the plot, but it is some serious butt-kickery on a level we haven’t seen in Bollywood.

 

The movie really gets going when Tiger is then sent to Dublin (after cooking some daal for his boss and having a few drinks with him) and needs to shadow a nuclear scientist by posing as a writer where he meets and eventually falling in love with charming Zoya, part time dancer and part time caretaker of the professor.

 

The Dublin storyline is just the mcguffin to set up the romance in Ek Tha Tiger, playing off their real life chemistry between with Salman and Katrina which up until now hadn’t been harnessed on the big screen yet (neither in Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya which was almost Katrina’s debut and neither Yuvraaj as Subhash Ghai lost his ability to make coherent movies back in the 80’s).

 

The back and forth dialogue feels so natural between both that you start wondering wonder how much was ad-libbed, references to Katrina’s pronunciation of the letter “dh” and her rabbit teeth seem to be very “Salman”.

 

What I really appreciated is that we go to see the sweet and charming Salman Khan again as we have to be honest that in Dabanng, Wanted and Ready he was playing kind of an a*hole. Salman seems to be having fun interacting with the local extras in every city he is in, from the hotel reception clerks in Dublin to the kids and old folks in Cuba. He is also genuinely funny again without having to play off his own persona or referencing Salman Khan the star.  The humor is dryer without obvious punchlines followed by a deliberate pause. There are some wonderful visual gags that works really well especially the intercut scenes of previous adventures and mishaps of Tiger and some of the winking at the camera without having to break the 4th wall. And clearly Salman loved spending time with Katrina and how could you not?

 

Katrina Kaif has been so consistent in delivering roles that seem to fit her like a glove. Like Mere Brother Ki Dulhan or even Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, I can’t see any other actress enacting the role of Zoya. The lady just has tons of screen presence and besides her bedazzling styling she brings such physicality to the role that other actresses like Priyanka (Don 2) and Deepika (Chandni Chowk To China) can only dream of.

I wouldn’t have minded seeing some more of that physicality in some key scenes (especially just before the interval). The problem she has is the characterization of Zoya is sometimes flaky, the screenplay never decides if she is a bad ass on the level of Tiger or a damsel in distress and that really does a disservice to Katrina.

 

The production values are top notch and ETT is beautifully framed, and truly feels global without feeling disjointed (unlike Don 2 and Agent Vinod which felt the need to globe hop for no reason) or giving a sense of déjà vu even though locations like Istanbul have recently been rediscovered and used in quite a few other movies (Game amongst other but maybe I’m the only one how saw that). YRF did a slightly better at the hiring non-Indian extras and background dancers job than that other foreign local gloss machine Dharma Films (who really scrape the bottom of the barrel, may I remind you of the drunk chapel scene in Ek Main Aur Ek Tu?).

 

The action set pieces are probably the highlight of the movie and they really pack multiple scissor kicks, the only problem I had was with the facial imaging effects they used on the Salman Khan Body Double were slightly jarring in the Dublin sequence, they weren’t as bad as some scenes in Krissh but when it comes to daylight shots, there is still some work to be done.

Another problem is the lack of central villain so we don’t get a final brawl although the climax does deliver in many other ways.

A bigger issue is that we never get a true motivation for why our romantic duo is being chased with such vigor, this could have easily been tweaked on a screenplay level but if you haven’t bought into the Tiger by then, you probably won’t.

 

Final Verdict: The Movie is GREEEEEAAAT (Could I leave you guys without a lame Tony The Tiger reference? – no, as that’s the kind of reviewer I am).

But lame jokes aside Ek Tha Tiger is a great summer blockbuster that is slightly loose around the edges but the performances of the main leads, the romance, production values, cinematography and action set pieces truly deliver and isn’t that really what we look for during the summer?

 

Spoiler Section:

Although the trailer was great and built up the required buzz, it did spoil quite a few jokes and action set pieces, which is a shame as they lessen the impact within the movie, but maybe that’s my mistake for rewatching them a billion time in anticipation for the release.

 

Ranvir Shorey styles some amazing facial hair.

 

Was there a need for the other ISI agent beside Katrina? It would have easily sufficed having her go all Angelina Jolie on the audience although Salman fans would probably not appreciate her clobbering him like a ninja and stealing his phone.

 

This movie is riddled with gaping lot of plot holes (Salman even jumps over a few in Iraq) consider yourself warned.

 

The biggest compromises in ETT were made by director Kabir Khan. To the point that if you listen very carefully you can hear him gnashing his teeth in the back ground at very forced Salman Khan trademark shirt removal scene. The placing of the song “Mashallah” also feels like an after thought, although beautifully picturised, these all out populist conventions clearly make the director feel ill at ease and it shows.

 

For a moment during the tram sequence I thought Salman would go all Spiderman on us and stop the train with his bare hands.

 

The epilogue and voice over were completely redundant as was the reveal of Tiger’s real name, had even less impact than the whole Professor Kidwai scene.

 

@asimburney

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Usain Bolt: The Movie DVD Release

Yeah, he's that fast...again

“I told you all I was going to be No. 1 and I just did that”

We certainly can’t accuse the aptly named Jamaican sprinter of lacking confidence. And now that he’s defended successfully both of his Olympic golds in the 100m and 200m we can all pretty much agree that he is truly the “living legend” he proclaims himself to be.

In this extraordinary film, French producer and director Gael Leiblang paints us an intimate and boundless portrait of the life of athletic legend and cultural icon Usain Bolt.

Breaking BBC records (reaching 3 million viewers) when aired in mid July, the DVD features an extra 30 minutes of never before seen footage, delving deeper than ever fathomed into the rigorous training sessions and elusive private life of the long-legged Jamaican.

Granted exclusive and unprecedented access to the fastest man in the world, Leiblang explores Bolt’s childhood and chronicles him in a series of in-depth interviews, as he prepares to make history at this year’s Olympic games in London.

Filmed over a 12 month period, leading up to this year’s Games, Bolt is examined both at home with his family and friends and on the road competing across the world.

Static for once

This stunning documentary expertly exposes his boyish charm in his home environment, juxtaposed to his uncompromising focus and invincibility on the track, where he gallops past the other runners, like a God competing with mere mortals.

Usain Bolt sealed his position as the fastest man on earth and entered the history books when he successfully retained his 100m Olympic title. As over four billion peopled watched the 100m final at the London 2012 Olympic Games on the 5th Of August, the Jamaican sprinter took the gold medal convincingly.

From gruelling sessions on the practice track, to deejaying for fans in Italy and including his infamous false start at World Championships, this remarkable documentary takes us inside the life of the man who could become the greatest athlete the Olympics has ever seen.

USAIN BOLT: THE MOVIE, released by Revolver Entertainment is now out on DVD to buy and rent.

@martincawley

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Top Ten Movies of Upodcast – An Alternative to the Sight and Sound Poll

Last week there The British Film Institute released it’s Sight And Sound Poll, a survey they do every decade with over 800 Film critics, distributors and academics. The big news this year was that Citizen Kane was knocked out the number one position by Vertigo.

There hasn’t been much change in the names and the most recent film on the poll is 1968’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, so our friend and previous Upodcast guest Adam Lowes (Check out his appearance on our Podcast by clicking here) conducted an alternative Film Bloggers Top Ten over at HeyUGuys and asked us to put in our two cinematic cents, which we were more than eager to do.

As always our choices are vastly different but pretty much in line with the guys you know so well yapping about movies on Upodcast.

Of course these aren’t definitive lists,they aren’t in any order of preference and I should add a disclaimer that these aren’t the best movies but maybe our favorite movies but does that really matter?

They are vastly different from the Sight and Sound Poll and some of our picks did make it in the HeyUGuys list.

We also asked our good friend FilmiGirl to send us her list as she is pretty much part of the Upodcast Family.

Here we go!

Asim‘s List:

  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Godfather Part 2
  • Sholay
  • Goodfellas
  • 12 Angry Men
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Inception
  • There Will Be Blood
  • Once Upon a Time in the West
  • Andaz Apna Apna

Martin‘s List:

  • Layer Cake
  • Secrets And Lies
  • Heat (1995)
  • Rear Window
  • Requiem For A Dream
  • Old Boy
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Double Indemnity
  • Hudsucker Proxy
  • La Haine

Ahmed‘s List:

  • Bad Boys  
  • The Dark Knight
  • Drive
  • Demolition Man
  • GodFather 2
  • Stargate
  • BackTto The Future
  • Se7en
  • Time Crimes
  • Leon The Professiona

FilmiGirl‘s List:

  • A Hard Day’s Night
  • American Movie
  • Linda LInda Linda
  • Pithamagan
  • A (Kannada film by Upendra)
  • Dil Se
  • Sholay
  •  F for Fake
  • All About Eve
  • Crying Game

 

Here is the Sight And Sound List, click here for the complete list.

SIGHT AND SOUND’S TOP 10

1. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)

2. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)

3. Tokyo Story (Ozu, 1953)

4. La Regle du Jeu (Renoir, 1939)

5. Sunrise: a Song for Two Humans (Murnau, 1927)

6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)

7. The Searchers (Ford, 1956)

8. Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)

9. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1927)

10. 8½ (Fellini, 1963)

And here is the Alternative Film Bloggers Poll from HeyUGuys, click here for the complete list.

TOP TEN

1. Jaws
2. Back to the Future
3. = The Dark Knight
3. = Blade Runner
5. = 2001 A Space Odyssey
5. = There Will Be Blood
5. = Psycho
5. = Citizen Kane
9. Pulp Fiction
10. = The Thing
10. = Alien

I’ve added everyone’s twitter handle if you want to chuck stones at us, of course if you are a more chilled out person, you can always use the comment section below!

@asimburney

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The Flowers of War Trailer

Remember last year when Christian Bale almost got arrested in China for visiting blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, who had been under house arrest for more than 15 months in his village at that time? Well he was actually in China at that moment shooting The Flowers of War for director Zhang Yimou. The movie was released last year in some countries and festivals and has garnered some acclaim and is now finally seeing a UK Release (probably timed with that other Bale release)

Shot beautifully but dealing with a really horrific chapter of history, we’ll get to see another side of Bale.

The story is according to imdb:

“A Westerner finds refuge with a group of women in a church during Japan’s rape of Nanking in 1937. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety”

The trailer looks like the movie is shot on a really grand scale but you’ll need guts to probably finish the movie as it deals with some real horror and although some might hope Bale will just suit up and solve problems with batarangs, I don’t think it will be happening. (actually just reading up about The Rape of Nanking on wikipedia, I’m feeling bad making jokes about it)

The movie releases exclusively in Empire Cinemas in theaters 3 August and surprisingly releases on DVD only 3 days after that on the 6th.

The Flowers Of War is showing exclusively at Empire Cinemas from August 3rd 2012. For information and to book tickets visit www.EmpireCinemas.co.uk or call 08 714 714 714.

@asimburney

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