Monday, April 27, 2015

Tashan mein...

I watched Tashan (again) last night. This movie is the gift that keeps on giving. I feel like it gets better each time I watch it. There are so many small, small jokes and references… like when Bachchan Pandey goes to beat up the guy in the movie theater and titles of films flash up like dishoom sound effects. KRODH!

And I forgot how much I loved all the picturizations. Bebo's swishy, swishy costumes in "Dil Haara"… the ridiculous, sarcastic "Dil Dance Maare"… the gorgeous "Falak Tak"...

And everybody just seems to be having so much fun with everything~ even if poor Bebo looks painfully thin in "Chaliya."

But Tashan is one of those films that would be utterly opaque to anybody not already swimming in Vicky Achara's meta-narrative milieu. Does a passing, pointed, plot reference to Don mean anything if nobody picks up on it?

I think I'll re-watch Dhoom 3 next, just to see if I can pick up any trends...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

魔法★男子チェリーズ Magical Boy Cherry's--Japan's Virgin Crime Fighting Super Hero Boy Band!

(From left to right: Tsukada Ryoichi, Kawai Fumito, Hashimoto Ryousuke, Totsuka Shota, and Goseki Koichi)

The concept of the low budget, late night, Japanese mini-series Magical★Boy Cherry’s (魔法★男子チェリーズ) sounds utterly ridiculous: a real life boy band, A.B.C-Z, playing a team of crime fighting, superhero virgins with superpowers taking down bad guy virgins with superpowers through the power of dance?! I went in expecting the broad wink to camera of The Ambiguously Gay Duo but, to my great surprise, the show I was watching turned out to be very Buffy-esque: a supernatural romp (with lots of character-driven humor) about just how hard it is to grow up and find your own place in life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

God bless the Filmi Girl...

Money, you've got lots of friends

They're crowding around your door

But when you're gone and spending ends

They don't come no more

Rich relations give crusts of bread and such

You can help yourself, but don't take too much

Mama may have, Papa may have

But God bless the child that's got his own, that's got his own

Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child."

I was thinking about this as I was reading Francine Prose's excellent review of Toni Morrison's new book God Help the Child in the New York Review of Books. (It's paywalled, sorry.)

The quote that struck me was this. Prose explains that Morrison may excel at writing relatable magical realism but her realism-realism is unbelievable:

"One reason why we may have less trouble accepting the magical elements in the book than some of the more apparently naturalistic ones is that we have learned to suspend our disbelief in the presence of something that, we feel, could never occur. But when we are shown "real" people interacting in what we assume to be the "real world", the writer--regardless of the authority of her narrative voice, or of her prodigious ability to will characters and events on to the page--is obliged to persuade us that a person might think and behave in the ways we observe her reflecting and acting."

And right there is my problem with so much of supposedly "realistic" filmmaking. I'll suspend my disbelief for a story all day long when I've been primed to with, for example, the use of an introductory hero song. Once we're clued into the magical properties of a world, we can relax and enjoy the ride. But if a film is supposed to be "realistic" then there is no way my brain will accept a story that hinges on True Love or other bullshit like that.

This is why I love Francine Prose. She is both an incredible writer and reader. I highly recommend her 2006 book Reading like a Writer if you can find it.

But then I started thinking about how "God Help the Child" came from "God Bless the Child" and if that isn't in some way also part of the problem I have with so much of contemporary nostalgia-based pop culture. "God Bless the Child" is a sly, bitter song that has been defanged and sweetened in the popular consciousness. The bite of that sarcastic "bless" has turned into a saccharine "help" and, by God, if that isn't what Farah Khan and the Nostalgia Industrial Complex have been doing to old films in the years since Om Shanti Om.

The bite, the sting, of those old films will now forever be remembered as throwaway jokes. Is it better than having old cultural products not remembered at all? Or remembered as things captured in amber, irrelevant to today? Maybe the past is just a big joke… or maybe we have to treat it that way to hold onto some feeling of "forward progress." Progress, progress, growth, growth… if we didn't laugh we'd have to cry.

Just some rambling thoughts for a Wednesday morning. Sorry, friends. I'm still not quite myself although my illness is slowly healing. But it's two steps forward, one step back… ah, well. Hopefully I'll be back to seeing new movies soon.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Dil Dhadakne Do trailer is here… but forget love, why isn't anybody worried about getting the shits?!

Well, the Dil Dhadakne Do trailer is here and all I have to say is… "Yawn."

A cruise? I mean, come on!! DON'T PEOPLE READ THE NEWS!!! The amount of literal shit-filled cruises in the news right now, I don't know who is crazy enough to go on one. Forget multiple man-children Understanding What Love Is and Priyanka having affairs and whatever, I would think the biggest crisis going on would be POTENTIAL VIRAL OUTBREAK AND ALSO BODY FLUIDS.

Anyways, to be fair, the trailer may conceal a film with some universality hidden inside the portrait of That Class of people, like the brilliant Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. But if the trailer is accurate then this is the exactly the kind of film I have no interest in English, in Hindi, in whatever language. This is just my personal preference, of course, but I find movies delving into the interpersonal (especially romantic) relationships of various wealthy people with no worries beyond boredom and what the neighbors think, extremely tedious. I'll believe True Love and Romance in a fantasy film, in a masala film, in a mythological film… I don't buy it in what passes for real life in Hollywood (and "Hollywood-style" films.)

But I will say that the tip of the hat to Bollywood--in the form of the song picturizations hinted at--is rather interesting. I think out of all the new "Hindie" directors working that Zoya (and Reema) understand the comfort to be found in synced song-dances. Anurag Kashyap hit it in Dev.D, Dibakar Banerjee had his cake and ate it in Shanghai, but somehow I get the impression both of those men (and even Farhan) feel like songs are "selling out" in a way that Zoya-Reema don't. Like, those guys will do songs to appease the money men but deep down they truly believe that "real" movies, "serious" movies are the type of thing that wins awards at Sundance and Cannes. Not from Filmfare.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Pisasu: A Haunted House Story

Pisasu (or Pissasu, I’ve seen it transliterated both ways) was an odd, little film but I enjoyed every second of it. Much like the earlier (and also excellent) Tamil horror hit Pizza, Mysskin’s Pisasu isn’t so much a “horror” film as it is a suspense film with a few chills thrown in. To that end, I’ll repeat my warning from my Pizza review and say that if you are intrigued by the idea of a moody Tamil horror film starring a moody, floppy fringed newcomer then peace out now and make sure you don’t read a single thing about it before you see it because most of the plot details are given away in the imdb synopsis and as well as most of the reviews and I’m going to give away the ending. Nobody can keep a secret these days. Well, almost nobody… you have been warned.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Indru Netru Naalai First Look!

So, this looks promising: time travel, Vishnu Vishal, weird future shit…

I like it.

Proving once again that the most creative films being made right now are coming out of South India.

.article .article-content { word-break: normal !important; }