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Archive for the ‘Press Play’ Category

Last Week at IFC: Sita Sings the Blues

In Press Play on January 9, 2010 at 1:40 AM

Last July, FilmKaravan released the DVD of SITA SINGS THE BLUES on Amazon and Netflix.  Don’t miss the rare opportunity to watch this sumptuous visual treat on the big screen for one -week only at the IFC Center.

Courtesy of NY Daily News

By ELIZABETH WEITZMAN

Another year, another “Leap Year.” Oh, sure, last January it was called “Bride Wars.” The January before it was “Mad Money.” Does it really matter? This is the month, we can all acknowledge, where lousy movies are laid to rest. But why?

Well, the studios figure that you haven’t had enough time to see the 2009 films that really matter — the ones with the big budgets (“Avatar”) or stars (“It’s Complicated”) or Oscar dreams (“Invictus”). And why waste something worthwhile on a month that’s too cold to draw maximum viewers and too early to be remembered for next year’s awards?

So aging movies like “Youth in Revolt” and “When inRome” — whose original release dates came and went — often wind up here. And if the Tim Allen comedy “Crazy on the Outside” isn’t worth screening for critics in advance, why not sneak it in when people will watch anything, as long as the theater is heated?

We’ll reserve judgment on Jackie Chan‘s upcoming family flick “The Spy Next Door,” despite its evident similarity to Vin Diesel‘s “The Pacifier.” But as with the Rock’s “Tooth Fairy,” its slot at the start of the year is unlikely to raise audience expectations.

Regardless, there are options for frustrated film fans. In fact, this is the perfect time to dig for unexpected gems. The terrific animated love story “Sita Sings the Blues” (at the IFC Center) may not boast the budget of an “Avatar,” but it’s twice as inventive and just as memorable. The Belgian fantasy “A Town Called Panic” (also at IFC) is even quirkier than “Youth in Revolt,” but so much more fun. And since they wouldn’t show us “Crazy on the Outside,” we can’t tell you whether it’s any good — but we can promise you’ll laugh at the sly political comedy “In the Loop” (at MoMA).

Better still, instead of watching movies that came out last year, why not revisit ones made decades ago? This weekend alone you’ll find D.W. Griffith‘s “Broken Blossoms” at MoMA, Akira Kurosawa‘s “Stray Dog” at Film Forum and Martin Scorsese‘s “Taxi Driver” at the IFC. The latter, incidentally, was originally released in February. So hope may be just around the corner.

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Mira Nair’s AMELIA, Hilary Swank’s Oscar?

In Press Play on October 18, 2009 at 8:16 PM

amelia Bottom Line: Top-flight portrayal of the aviator
by Hilary Swank is an instant bio classic.

By Ray Bennett, October 18, 2009
Courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter

LONDON — Freckle-faced, prairie-voiced and fiercely independent, Hilary Swank’s depiction of aviator Amelia Earhart in Mira Nair’s biographical film “Amelia” is of a high order. It ranks with recent real-life portrayals of Ray Charles by Jamie Foxx and Truman Capote by Philip Seymour Hoffman and could be similarly awards-bound.

The classically structured bio will appeal to grown-ups, history buffs and lovers of aeronautics, but in showing how the flier was one of the most lauded celebrities of her time, it also might appeal to youngsters. Smart marketing will expose the film to students and educators, and Swank’s sparkling portrayal could help attract younger women.

Stephanie Carroll’s handsome production design re-creates the 1920s and ’30s vividly, and Stuart Dryburgh’s cinematography captures the wild sensation of being alone high in the sky. Composer Gabriel Yared’s orchestral score — muscular in the aerial scenes, jovial where it needs to be and foreboding in its evocation of Earhart’s fate — ranks with his Academy Award-winning music for “The English Patient.”

The screenplay by Ronald Bass and Anna Hamilton Phelan is based on two books about Earhart — Susan Butler’s “East to the Dawn” and Elgin Long’s “Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved” — and is almost old-fashioned in its linear path. It provides as much information as is needed for those not familiar with the character without expositional clutter while taking time to show the woman’s no-nonsense approach to intimacy as well as the business of flying.

The script has input from Gore Vidal, who is portrayed as a child in the film by William Cuddy. He became close to Earhart when she had an affair with his father, noted aviation pioneer Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor), and there is a charming scene in which she explains to the frightened boy why her bedroom has walls covered in images from the jungle.

The film is framed by Earhart’s ill-fated attempt to fly around the world in 1937 with flashbacks to her introduction to flying and her burst into worldwide fame. Richard Gere plays publisher George Putnam — who promoted her flights and became her very understanding husband — with much charm and is matched by McGregor as Vidal.

Very much her own woman, Earhart not only paved the way for female aviators but helped drive the development of aviation at large. In the process, she became one of the first celebrities to create a major marketing bandwagon with her name slapped on any number of household products.

The business of flying in those days was fraught with peril, however, and the film does a good job of creating suspense during Earhart’s last flight. Christopher Eccleston makes a fine contribution as her navigator.

Most of all, Earhart wanted to be able to fly free as a bird above the clouds, and director Nair and star Swank make her quest not only understandable but truly impressive.

Opens: Friday, Oct. 23 ( Fox Searchlight Pictures)

‘Fruit & Nut’ Brings Big Humor to Bombay

In Press Play on October 16, 2009 at 11:41 AM

thumb.phpCourtesy of AVSTV.com

By E. Nina Rothe

Alright, alright, so I might be jumping head first into a great big controversy, but chances are those Indo-word centric gundas who have been giving Karan Johar a hard time lately will simply think that I am just another ignorant foreigner. Of course, you all know that is not the case and I am making my own point – and taking a stand in the process – on the use of the word. I have always called the city Bombay and loads of well educated, intellectual, highly special people agree with me. Is the Suketu Mehta book titled ‘Maximum City – Mumbai Lost and Found’? NO! Is the title of Mira Nair’s film ‘Salaam Mumbai’? Again, NO! Is the name of the infamously potent-smelling fish indigenous to the city ‘Mumbai Duck’? Hell NO! So, you see I am in pretty good, not to mention powerfully numerous, company on this.

At the press event for the upcoming Indian Films Studio 18 production ‘Fruit & Nut’, which was held on October 14th at Joss Restaurant in Colaba, there was some seriously wicked fun going on. Part of the entertainment for the evening was a choreographed intrusion by two very convincing Police officers, who would have totally intimidated me into believing they were the real thing, had it not been for their stage make-up glistening in the camera lights. But they came into the posh South Bombay restaurant beating their sticks and accusing the filmmakers of using the word Bombay in the film. Which is quite true, of course, as Boman Irani’s character Maharaja Harry Holkar apparently never even touches on the M version of city’s name…

While the Police incident might have been funny enough on its own, the evening was of course delightfully witty due to the presence of not one, not two, but three of the funniest men in Bombay these days. Of course, the number one title goes to the ever magnetic, ever charming, ever handsome and always funny Boman Irani. The ideal representative of the catchy phrase ‘Less is More’ Irani’s humor and charisma are simply irresistible. On the opposite side of the funny scale stands Cyrus Broacha, who could probably have a special phrase coined for him: ‘Everlasting’. Even in the presence of the stunning Dia Mirza – who sparkled in a cream, sequined and lacy Rocky S short creation – while standing next to the intimidating Irani, Broacha kept on wittily talking, energetically entertaining. He is funny to the max and only takes a moment to regroup, before starting again… For anyone who has seen his roles in both Sooni Taraporevala’s ‘Little Zizou’ – BTW, Ms. Taraporevala was present at the event to support her great friends! –  as well as this year’s ‘99′ you know exactly what I mean.

Pulling it all together for the evening were ‘Fruit & Nut’ director and writer Kunal Vijaykar, who added his own witty charm to the infamous lot, also the big bosses from Indian Films Studio 18 productions – who have truly become a force to be reckoned with – and the musical talent behind the F & N soundtrack, Sangeet & Siddharth Haldipur. The evening was a resounding success, featuring various below the belt jokes about how the film was in dire need of money from the audience, while Boman Irani distributed drink and food vouchers for which he demanded in exchange a payment of 5 rupees each. Of course, ever the gentleman, he offered me a ten rupee note so I could afford to partake.

‘Fruit & Nut’ is a comedy with a central character named Jolly Maker – played by Broacha – who is a simple, hard working middle class struggling bachelor in search of love, money and friends. He works as a clerk and accountant in the office of a corrupt builder. Nerdy and un-stylish, Maker is also quite accident-prone. One day, in broad daylight, Jolly Maker’s beautiful and snobbish colleague Monica gets kidnapped and through a series of comical mishaps, Jolly Maker finds himself in the middle of a plot that has been hatched by an insane Ex- Maharaja. Will Maker finally be the hero in cool Monica’s life? Will Maharaja Harry Holkar be the next Hugh Hefner? Will we all laugh so hard along with the film that we’ll end up crying? Those are all questions you’ll have to answer for yourselves, by watching the film.

’Fruit & Nut’ will be released in India on October 23rd, but for those of us in the US, we’ll have to wait until the middle of November to catch it on DVD. Of course, it will be more than worth the wait! But don’t make me come after you by buying illegal downloads or bootleg copies of the film. Insist on the original DVDs, sold only in reputable shops.

UTV + Anurag Kashyap for the next 3 years

In Press Play on October 14, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Courtesy of bollywoodhungama.com

anurag-kashyap

After collaborating on the cult hit Dev D earlier this year, UTV and Anurag Kashyap have once again joined hands. UTV has gone ahead and announced an exclusive association with Anurag Kashyap, for the next 3 years. As a part of the deal signed, Anurag will be directing 4 to 5 movies produced by UTV, and creatively producing another 4 to 5 in this duration. Speaking on this association, Vikas Bahl, COO, UTV Motion Pictures said, “Anurag Kashyap is an extremely talented director, with a unique vision for his projects. There is a clear connect between how we want each of our films to be exceptional and diverse in various aspects and how Anurag treats each of his projects. Dev D, a UTV Spotboy movie directed by Anurag, was a blockbuster and set the base for a phenomenal working relationship. Now, we want to take this association forward with a long term perspective, and that is exactly how this idea came about.” Anurag Kashyap also seemed elated on signing this deal. He said, “I am very happy to sign up with UTV because it gives me the freedom to make the kind of films I want to and I feel UTV supports as well as enhances my creative process. Not only do I enjoy directing for UTV but I also appreciate the support they give to films and other filmmakers in delivering a creative vision that the films demand. Making Dev D was one of the most satisfying experiences and the production and distribution support that I got from UTV was the best I ever had. A repeat of that is always welcome.”

Phat Phish that swam against the tide

In Press Play on October 1, 2009 at 1:39 PM

fakir

Courtesy of The Economic Times

4 Sep 2009

By Anirvan Ghosh, ET Bureau

In 2003, a college student who had done a few ad jingles wanted to make a Sufi music album but mainstream music labels turned him down. He then ran into ad filmmaker Anand Surapur, owner of Phat Phish Films and Phat Phish Records, and struck a deal. The album ‘Rabbi’, released in 2004, was an instant hit. Both its singer and Phat Phish Records had arrived.

Surapur recalls how the unusual name of the company came about. “After filming our first ad for Britannia I was in Goa and got a call asking whom to make the cheque for,” he says. At that time he liked a band called Phish, and was waiting for a fish fry on the beach. “So I said, pay it to Phat Phish.” Surapur had left his job with Channel V and this was his first break. He also tried his hand at a film direction course from NYU but returned after two and a half years due to lack of funds. Recently, Phat Phish Motion Pictures saw its first big release in Quick Gun Murugan (QGM), directed by Shashanka Ghosh, a fomer creative director at Channel V.

Surapur also created popular music videos like Kya Soorat Hai for Sony. “What matters is creative content. The music should be good,” says KR Harish, managing director, Phat Phish. With Rabbi, which was marketed by Sony, the company hit paydirt. The album sold over two lakh copies, received huge acceptance in downloads via internet and mobiles and the revenues grew 10-15 times.

Buoyed by the success of its first album Phat Phish launched Malayalee rock band Avial, which sold over 12,000 CDs. Two more albums, Jet Lag and Shor Bazaar, followed and now 80% of its revenues come from online downloads, mitigating the risk in revenue loss from piracy.

The decision to get into movies was needed to both survive and scale. “Otherwise we might have done a few albums and died like a small shop,” says Harish. Movies will now be the main growth driver to allow faster scaling up. QGM has raked in Rs 3 crore over its opening weekend, says Harish. Before this, the company had a low key (Rs 10 lakh) release earlier this year in ‘Frozen’ starring Danny Denzongpa. That makes QGM the first major success for Phat Phish Motion Pictures.

US-based fund Seven Hills invested in the company two years ago and has put in $6 million so far. The company has been profitable for the last two years and might go for an IPO in the next 2-3 years. Phat Phish Records will soon be hunting for bands in a music based reality show ‘The Big Band’ to be aired on Doordarshan starting December. The winner will get a three-year recording contract with Phat Phish and Rs 1 crore in cash. The company has already shown that music need not mean Bollywood in India, and is looking to create a new order.

First Marathi film to get a US arthouse release

In Press Play on September 24, 2009 at 1:28 PM

Courtesy of Passion for Cinema

gabhricha-pausGabhricha Paus (The Damned Rain) gets its US release at Facets in Chicago. First Marathi film to get a arthouse US release. Probably the first Indian film to be shown at Facets. I don’t know if they showed the The Terrorist there. Nevertheless a moment of pride for India and Indians and Desi’s. An achievement that i envy and i wish some day i will be able to make a film that shows at Facets.

Spread the word and make this a success. Following is the schedule.

US Premiere at Facets Cinematheque, Chicago
Showtimes: Saturdays & Sundays, Aug. 29-30 & Sept. 5-6 at 12:30 pm
Link for more info — http://www.facets.org/pages/films/aug2009/damnedrain.php

Rest of the schedule –
Sept 11- Chicago
Sept 18- Edison
Sept 25- San Jose
Oct 2 – LA
Oct 9- Dallas
Oct 16- Detroit
Oct 23- Boston
Oct 30- Atlanta

Here is hoping that it does well. Spread the word.

– Anurag Kashyap

Tan C Won’t Have Coffee With You

In In Your Face, Press Play on September 24, 2009 at 12:18 PM

tannishtha-chatterjee-01

Its a pleasant fall afternoon in New York. We’re sitting down with Tannishtha Chatterjee, just days before the premiere of her new film in Toronto. Conversation flows, humor brimmeth over, but the coffee stays untouched. Amongst other things, we learn that this leading lady was once a Chemistry major. And with four incredible indie films out this year she’s also an MBA in what it takes to make it on your own terms in this filmi industry! So listen up…

FK: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
TC:
It follows Heisenberg’s uncertainty priciple. At the rate at which I am travelling these days the images are a little blurry.

FK: Your greatest asset is…
TC:
What asset…Dude, there’s a recession

FK: London or Mumbai?
TC:
Both. London for its awesome weather, Mumbai for its cleanliness…

FK: In how many languages can you say ‘Get Lost’?
TC:
Get lost……

FK: Performance or Trance?
TC:
My personal preference is peek sports performance with deep trance hypnosis. Did you hear about that?

FK: What do we not know about you?
TC:
What you shall never know!!

FK: Who is more funny – Dev B or D?
TC: Are you kidding…. obviously Dev B… I mean D Actually Tan C

FK: What’s playing on your ipod right now?
TC:
Nobodys fault but mine…

Is Sita in Your Shopping Bag?

In Payal Sethi, Press Play on September 9, 2009 at 11:00 AM

sita-hanumanNew Yorkers can pick up their shiny copies of Nina Paley’s crowd pleasing animated treasure, SITA SINGS THE BLUES, at the Rubin Museum (150 W 17th Street) for $18 a pop.

The film is also available for rental or purchase on Netflix or Amazon so get your copy and make sure your cousin in Ohio gets his too!