Friday, February 20, 2015

Well, color me 50 Shades of Disappointed...

Let me state up front that I have not read the 50 Shades of Grey novels. That does not mean, however, that I have no interest in the type of film 50 Shades of Grey was supposed to be--a disturbing, overwrought, erotic melodrama based on a novel that was based on a piece of Twilight fan fiction. The problem with the 50 Shades of Grey movie is NOT 50 Shades of Grey. No, the problem with the 50 Shades of Grey movie is that the director--and the producers--neither understood nor respected their audience.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

With nothing to return to but the demons in their caves.

Ohhhh… to be Prince Caspian, afloat upon the waves.
Oh, to be Prince Caspian, with nothing to return to but the demons in their caves.

I'm not a Phish fan at all but I liked Billy Breathes well enough when it came out. I haven't listened to it recently to see if it holds up. All that said, I've had "Prince Caspian" stuck in my head for days now. Why? Well, I'll tell you, dear friends. I've actually been quite ill with the flu since last week! I'm feeling much better now but for a few days all I could bear to do was listen to the audio book versions of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia. (In the real order, with Lion as No.1, of course. I was ill, not an idiot!)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Shamitabh: Two for the Price of One.

You see the whole country of the system is juxtapositioned by the hemoglobin in the atmosphere because you are a sophisticated rhetorician intoxicated by the exuberance of your own verbosity!

“My name is Anthony Gonsalves…” (Really?!) I have to admit when Amitabh was set up to deliver an off-the-cuff line of filmi dialouge, I was hoping it would be this one from Amar Akbar Anthony. A bit of sophisticated rhetoric from another era.

Friday, February 6, 2015

O Saathi Re...

I am really, really looking forward to see The Big B and Dhanush on screen this weekend. They share a similar energy, lanky-limbed, the intense gaze… I could picture a young Amitabh in VIP and Dhanush in Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, a film I think back on every now and then. It falls outside the "Camp" Retro Canon solidified by tastemakers like Farhan Akhtar and Farah Khan (Don, Karz, Amar Akbar Anthony, etc.) but it's one of my favorite old Amitabh films. So much Capital A "Acting" goes on. So much melodrama. So much EMOTION. The pain in Amitabh's eyes cuts like a knife.

He really is one of the all-time greats. It's not just hype and hysteria and nostalgia. And it's good for me to be reminded of that.

Ah… I actually found another version of this song that had the preceding speech attached to it and, wow, is it wonderful to hear Amitabh speaking beautiful Hindi. Even though my Hindi language skills are quite poor, I know enough to know that the way dialogues are written and delivered has really changed. Still, there's a reason everybody wants Amitabh to do their voice-over narrations...

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Congrats Shahid and Kangs!!!

Big congratulations are in order to Shahid Kapoor and Kangana Ranaut on their Filmfare Awards!! I know awards are bullshit--believe me, I know--but that doesn't mean it's not nice to see two of the finest young talents working in Bollywood be appreciated. And two young talents who spent many years slogging away in the trenches. Shahid Kapoor has just blossomed post-Jab We Met. I haven't seen Haider (yet. haven't seen it YET!) but I have seen almost all of his other recent work and though not all the films were wonderful, SHAHID was wonderful in them.

And you all know my love affair with Kangana. Oh, Kangana~~ I've loved her since Gangster and I'm just so… proud? I don't know if that's the right word. But here is an actress who just hung in there when lesser mortals would have given it up and packed it in. Through horrible rumors, heartbreak, more heartbreak, sexism, and worse. She kept on acting.

(It's probably too much to ask for a Kangana-Shahid starrer next… but can we have one? Please?)

Anyways, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts--Penn's Sunday School by Penn Jillette, one half of magic duo Penn & Teller. And Penn got me thinking. He was talking about the Super Bowl and how a New York Times article had kind of talked him into that it was a big cultural deal and he should be doing SOMETHING for it. But when he went around talking to his friends about their Super Bowl plans, they were like, "Penn, did we do anything for the previous 48 Super Bowls?" And he was like, "No." "So what makes this one different?" And it struck him that he'd been unconsciously talked into worrying about it by the article.

And there are so many things like that, especially now, where the media bubble hypes things or talks us into believing narratives that aren't really true or that aren't really true for us. But because they get cycled around the insular media-sphere it seems way more prevalent and important than it really is. All those outlets copy everything from one another. It's really pathetic. The state of journalism.

And nobody questions them. I've been enjoying Glenn Greenwald on this topic. He had a couple good pieces recently--one on the hypocrisy of the "Je Suis Charlie" free speech movement (i.e. "free speech for what I believe and censorship for everybody else" movement) and another on Jon Chait's unbearably whiny piece on the the oppression of white guy journalists with publishing platforms and large audiences.

Here's one of my favorite Kangana moments.

And I couldn't find the clip I wanted of Shahid getting ready in the morning but… actually, Chance Pe Dance is one of my favorite Shahid performances ever. He's AMAZING in this film.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Money Wars

Oh, friends. I meant to watch Lingaa this weekend. I really did. But instead I ended up catching up on this wonderful Japanese drama airing right now called Zeni no Sensou ("The Money Wars"). It reminds me a lot of those wonderful old Amitabh movies from the 1970s where the hero (played by Kusanagi Tsuyoshi in this case, one of my favorites and an actor who has really mastered the art of the TV melodrama) tries to do what's culturally mandated but realizes that not only is he outside of society but EVERY POSSIBLE WAY OF JOINING SOCIETY is forbidden to him because of class, money, etc. So… in the first episode there is this amazing scene where our hero's father has committed suicide millions of yen in debt and his mother is in hospital and he's lost his job and he's at his breaking point and he runs to the temple and just WAILS at God, saying that his mother gave a 5 yen everyday for 40 years for God to watch over them and look what's happened. HE DEMANDS A REFUND! HE NEEDS ALL THOSE YEN NOW TO PAY MEDICAL BILLS!!!

It's really quite something to watch Kusanagi-san explode like that. He's done it in every episode so far. My favorite is at this party scene with all these rich people and he gets up on a table with a bottle of champagne and just TELLS TRUTH TO POWER, MAN!

Also, Judy Ongg (you know, Judy Ongg!!!!!!) is in it as a bad-ass old rich aunty.



And next weekend, hopefully I'll get to see me some Amitabh at the local cinema.

There's just so much to do and see and so little time…

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