Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cannes Day 5

A piece from Reuters on how India is trying to ditch the "Bollywood" tag at Cannes. Nothing new but I thought this statistic was interesting:

In 2011 India saw a 42 percent jump in the number of Hollywood movies shot there with several Hollywood studios such as Disney, News Corp's Fox, and Sony entering deals with or buying stakes in Indian companies.

There has also been a surge in the number of Hollywood movies released in India, where 3.6 billion film tickets were sold last year. Hollywood studios have been releasing their films in India simultaneously with their North American releases and also dubbing films in various regional Indian languages.

Snap of the Bombay Talkies crew courtesy of Karan Johar's twitter feed.

The only story today is Ugly promotions from Anurag Kashyap.

It’s a terrible tale of corruption, indifference, and systemic violence, shot full of a wicked, black humour. When the father and his friend approach the police to register the child’s disappearance, there is a meandering, cruelly drawn-out scene that comes straight out of absurdist theatre. Kafka’s influence on Kashyap is very evident in this remarkably crafted and acted scene.

You know, it's odd. Last night I watched the inconsequential but pleasant Mere Dad Ki Maruthi. What really separates a film like Ugly from one like Mere Dad Ki Maruthi? Aren't they just two sides of the same coin? A lost car and a lost girl. Only one is optimistic at the end, full of belief in consumer culture, with no time for old men's complaints about corruption. (Like literally, there is a very funny sequence where the Hero mocks his father and uncles for rambling on about it over their whiskey.)

I'm not sure what my point is here but the Kafka mention got me thinking about some other reading I did this week. It's all well and good to rage against the machine but if the only people you're raging to agree with you but have cynically accepted whatever it is you're raging against, what's the point but a big circle jerk? Yesterday I also happened to be reading about the modern day slavery that exists in places like Immokalee, Florida and when I went to the grocery store, all I could see was blood and sweat and tears covering every strawberry and leaf of lettuce. And I paid a dollar more for organic, not that it wasn't the same people picking both but we all felt that good left-wing righteousness, I'm sure, with our organic strawberries.

Actually, going back to the first piece, do you know what my dream project from Anurag Kashyap is? I think I've said this before but I would love to see an American encounter film made for mainstream global audiences based on the Wounded Knee Incident. How badass would that be? Kashyap flipping the tables and pulling a reverse Danny Boyle to make a film about how badly Americans screwed our own indigenous population.

Back to more glamour tomorrow with Aishwarya making her appearance!


Moimeme said...

Whatever makes you think that Anurag Kashyap would even begin to understand the Wounded Knee incident, either the old one or the modern one?

Filmi Girl said...

He doesn't have to understand it to make a badass encounter film about it. ;P

How many Americans even know the AIM shootout took place?

Moimeme said...

Well, I know and you know about the AIM shootout. That makes two of us. :)

People in the under 40 age group generally don't know most of the things that happened more than 25 years ago. :(

Filmi Girl said...

The two of us and the people who live on Pine Ridge?

Though I suppose at this point I shouldn't be, I'm always shocked at what Americans don't know even about their own history. Just like how right now, everybody is bringing up "Watergate" (40th anniversary!) with no grasp of what happened then and even less on what's happening now.

Moimeme said...

Maybe even the younger people in Pine Ridge don't know. :( Certainly the AIM has fizzled out.

But it's not even major political or historical events. Even popular culture is so misunderstood. I was reading the twitter convo between you and Danny Bowes re the new Star Trek movie, and then I read his review of it. There's also an interesting rant/opinion in the Huntington Post on how they've completely misinterpreted Captain Kirk. I couldn't stand the first of the new ST films, so had zero interest in this one.

I don't know if you've ever seen the original Get Smart TV series? They made a film of it a few years ago (well, 5-10 yrs ago). I read an interview with the director before its release, where he said that he had a hard time knowing what approach to take, because, while there was a lot of comedy in the show, "there was also lots of violence." And I was like, what violence? So I think that present day people just have a very narrow lens through which they view everything, which makes it very hard for them to relate to events from their own recent history, or understand a different point of view. This is not something limited to Americans; you see the same thing in Indians, for instance. All of which makes your blog such a pleasure to read, because it's very rare (even among the BW bloggers) to see someone who's so openminded and willing to learn and *unlearn* so many things when trying to understand the popular culture of another country. So thank you very much for your efforts! :)

Moimeme said...

Sorry for going off track. What I wanted to ask you was -- do you really think it's possible for a director to make a "kick ass" film about a subject he doesn't understand? Given the Star Trek and Get Smart examples?

Filmi Girl said...

Well, first - thank you! I try to keep an open mind, despite what some people think. XD And I agree about the tunnel vision. In a lot of ways, I've been very blessed to have a "third culture" upbringing, with most of my education in history and politics taking place at the library, though copious amounts of reading.

Re: Star Trek, I definitely think a director who doesn't understand a subject can make a kickass film on it. IMHO some of the most interesting works of art come from people who are just going on instinct and aesthetics rather than understanding.

The trouble with the new Star Trek is that Abrams does understand exactly what he's doing. He's making a film that deliberately leaves out everything that made the original series great in a misguided effort to "improve" it or "modernize" it or whatever it is he thinks he's doing.

Personally, I'd rather watch Major Kira rip into a Federation bureaucrat on a DS9 repeat than watch the fancy, new Star Trek.

Moimeme said...

Ah, well, then I have to disagree with you. Or rather, acknowledge that we look for different things in our film watching experience. To me the meaning is supreme, and no amount of aesthetics or "intuition" can substitute for it. In fact, many times I have said "It looks great aesthetically, and the actors performances were superb, but it doesn't add up to anything" about various films. If all the elements that go into a good film don't coalesce into something that's more than the sum of its parts, then it doesn't do it for me.

Thanks for a stimulating discussion, and hope I didn't bore or nag you too much. :)

Filmi Girl said...

Never! :D

And, yes, as I'm sure you know, I'm quite good at bringing in more than enough meaning to films on my own. I love looking at mass market films with a sociological eye for meaning - as well as an appetite for entertainment.

Whoa. That is an overly caffeinated sentence right there. Maybe I don't need that second pot... ;)

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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