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Million Dollar Arm Review Liff 2014

Million Dollar Arm_01I’ll let the product speak for itself” declares actor Madhur Mitthal enthusiastically when introducing the screening of Disney’s crossover offering Million Dollar Arm at the London Indian Film Festival. And that is precisely what Million Dollar Arm is – a product, neatly wrapped in cellophane, slotting obediently into an awkward space between mainstream Hollywood and what Hollywood thinks will sell to its own domestic market as well as to a primarily Indian audience.

Based on a true story, US sports agent JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) travels to India to find a cricket player to turn into a major sports star and secure his own business/career in the process. Of course, the process is not as simple as JB thinks and as he brings his two finds back to LA, he finds his life changes in an unexpected but Hollywood kind of pleasing way.

There are some fun moments in Million Dollar Arm – throwaway lines (bribing in India is described as “bypassing the system“), small set pieces which wryly observe culture clashes (when the boys tease JB about his walk of shame the night before) and of course every scene the wonderful Alan Arkin is in as a retired and grumpy talent scout. The cast also share a nice chemistry which the script doesn’t necessarily cater for and it almost feels like these moments take everyone by surprise (in a good way) before reverting back to auto pilot as the film veers towards its inevitable destination.

But overall, Million Dollar Arm feels clinical and felt like any other sports film where the underdog comes out on top against all the odds, only this time, the twist is the Indian influence is conveniently moulded from inspirational to comical to alien to familiar as per the needs of the story. This is a shame as if the script had gotten its hands dirty or dared to explore the more uncomfortable questions it manages to avoid, it may have been closer to that pan market hit it seems determined to be.

Thankfully, the cast are all rather good – Madhur Mitthal and Suraj Sharma portray Dinesh and Rinku’s journey well from overwhelmed young boys to finding themselves as sportsmen. Pitobash gives a good account of himself as Amit as does Lake Bell whose Brenda is like a breath of fresh air each time she appears on screen. Jon Hamm makes for a suitably rugged lead with a charm and ease that endears the audience towards him.

Whilst Million Dollar Arm does not really push the so called “crossover” canon forward in any way, the fact that it has some likeable and truthful moments shows the potential that this film has and if it had been allowed to find a space of its own, it may well have reached a wider audience that it seems to be aiming for. For now though, Million Dollar Arm entertains but ultimately does not fulfill. This is a Eat, Pitch, Love for a family audience.

Million Dollar Arm is on general release in the UK from 29th August 2014.

Million Dollar Arm

Directed by: Craig Gillespie

Starring: Jon Hamm, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mitthal, Lake Bell, Pitobash

Bhushan Kumar is a Hindi film and fashion obsessed being living and working in London.

Follow Bhushan on Twitter: @bogeyno2

Blog: http://bogeyno2.wordpress.com/

Pixar’s Brave Review Upodcast

A sneaky little Upodcasting stocking-filler of a podcast for our next episode.  The main event is Disney’s Brave and all of the long, bouncy, exceedingly life-like curly red hair that goes with it.  Maybe it makes sense for Asim and Martin to do this one without Ahmed, as we are the two who need some of Merida’s offcuts!  Seemingly under the radar (at least for Martin) for a Disney, Brave is fantastic fun and some of the animation is remarkable.  As someone who’s losing his own, perhaps I might be fixated on the hair too much, but it’s amazing I swear.  I was equally impressed with the running time, meaning it is actually suitable for young children to watch with a mere 90 or so minutes and a simple story without any over-complication.  It’s also great for spotting who the voices are – there are in fact two from Trainspotting plus other more well-known names.  Certainly a great choice of family movie for Christmas day.

As per usual we don’t draw the line at merely a movie.  Asim has been catching-up on one of the biggest releases of the year in Prometheus and Martin preferred to spend his time reliving the glory days of a quirky one-off British spoof sci-fi, spoof many things show called Garth Marenghi’s dark place.  Fans of the IT Crowd and The Office (UK version) will enjoy “actor spotting”.

 

Listen/Subscribe/Download the show below

 

@martincawley

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Danny & Annie: A 27 year long ‘Love Story’

Danny Perasa and his wife, Annie, recount their twenty-seven-year romance. As they remember their life together from their first date to Danny’s final days with terminal cancer, these remarkable Brooklynites personify the eloquence, grace, and poetry that can be found in the voices of everyday people when we take the time to listen. Check out this heartwarming animated video after the Jump! Read More

First look Disney’s first Bollywood: Zokkomon

The superhero bug has bitten the entire world and the Indian film industry is no different.
Except for the ridiculous Govinda- Kimi Katkar  Indian Superman scene on YouTube, the first real superhero that I can remember was Amitabh Bachan in the awesome Shahenshah. I remember there was a 3 week waiting period in our Karachi video rental store.
But I’ll let that memory back in the campy 80’s where it belongs.
We had the Hritik Roshan starrer Krrish which really wetted our appetite for a proper Bollywood superhero.(Good effort but doesn’t have originality or repeat value unless you actually think you can be Krrish when you grew up)
Shahrukh Khan, the supreme superstar of Bollywood (aka King Khan) is taking a swing on the genre with Ra.one a cutting edge mix up hi-tech and skin tight Lycra insanity. My worry is that Bollywood is making the first type of superhero movies  as we saw back in the 70’s -80’s with a supreme good guy as a heroe with no human flaws whilst the audience has now grown up, moved on and prefers a more  darker approach( more real?) eg The Dark Knight, The Watchmen and the forthcoming Kick Ass.

But in the meantime Disney have released the first images and trailer to Zokkomon, their foray into live action Bollywood production.
Their previous animated release was Roadside Romeo which to me it felt like an incoherent mish mash of deja-vu sequences with strained voice work of super couple said ali khan and Kareena kapoor. It was clear that the actors were not yet comfortable with the animated medium.

But now we have Zokkomon starring the revelation of Taare Zameen Par(masterpiece by Amir Khan about a child coming to terms with dyslexia- a strong recommendation from my end).
The costume design kinda reminds me of Red Mist in the kickass posters but to me that’s a minor detail and still I’m excited!

Red Mist-Kick Ass (I’m not crazy that i see a similarity right?)

let us know what you thought of the trailer in our comments section!

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