Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A couple announcements!

GOOD MORNING, FRIENDS!!!!

Guess who is finally almost, almost 100% better? That's right, Filmi Girl!

It has been a long, long couple of months but I had what was hopefully my final appointment on Monday and should be as right as rain soon enough.

I know most of you understand how difficult it is to focus on writing or thinking critically when you are in a lot of pain. There were a lot of times in the past couple months I couldn't even bring myself to read subtitles or watch anything too wild or stressful. I re-watched the Lord of the Rings movies. I re-watched Flight of the Conchords. I listened to a lot of audio books.

Hopefully, I will be back on some sort of writing-reviewing schedule soon. I will be away for a couple of weeks until the beginning of June for some much needed R&R but when I come back things should be picking up again!

In the meantime, I hope everybody enjoyed the hoopla over Bombay Velvet. That was kind of an unexpected backlash! It makes me wonder how Zoya's film will be seen… if critics aren't already tired of these guys.

And please be enjoying… NEW SHINEE PV!!!!

I still hold that Bollywood would be smart to partner with the Korean entertainment industry instead of chasing America. Get SHINee for an item song and start winning back territory lost to Hollywood in Southeast Asia, dudes!

Ah!! And I had some requests for JUST the "Bollywood for Beginners" part of my e-book to pass along to total noobs so here you go:

USA Amazon

UK Amazon

AU Amaazon

Filmi Girl's got you… as long as she's not in crippling pain!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday!!

Good morning, friends!

I hope everybody has been well… so, ol' Filmi Girl has slowly been returning to good health. I'm feeling better than I have in months. Fingers crossed I don't have another horrible set-back… I feel like I was a ghost for the last few months and starting to look like one, too!! My roommate joked I'm the only person to ever lose weight on an all ice cream diet. Gallows humor… :))

The silver lining for you is there hasn't been much of interest in the theaters and there will continue to be nothing much of interest in theaters until, what? Brothers? With the exception of, yes, ABCD 2!!!!!!!

THIS IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT! BRING ON THE 3D!!!!!!!!!

What was 3D made for if not to bring us PRABHUDEVA DANCING OUT OF OUR CINEMA SCREENS?!

I was explaining to my family over the weekend how much I live for the razzle-dazzle of show business and how little Bollywood has been providing it over the last few years… with some exceptions. Varun Dhawan has a lot of razzle-dazzle.

And towards the end of this month is Masss! If it comes to my theater, it might be worth shelling out for this one… Suriya! MASS!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A few thoughts on Mr. Bond.

Good morning, dear friends! I'm so sorry to have abandoned you for so long. As you may or may not have known I've been fighting some very poor health since the end of March and just as I thought I was getting better, I had a major relapse last Thursday. They say two steps forward, one step back but I feel like it's been one step forward, two steps back for me all spring.

And I've been left with a very, very large medical bill. (Thanks, American health care system!) Which means that I probably won't be seeing many new movies in the theater for some time to come because I just can't afford to spend $15 on a ticket for a film that will more than likely not be worth the cost.

But I'm on the mend again and hopefully for good this time. But please be patient with me and hopefully I'll be back to writing on regular basis again in the near future.

I did want to share that I watched Akshay's delightful Mr. Bond the other day, on youtube, without subtitles, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I really don't understand how it gets ranked at the bottom of the Akshay filmography. HAVE THOSE PEOPLE NEVER SEEN 8 x 10?! My god! I will try to do a proper write-up if I can wrangle my brain back into fighting shape because there doesn't seem to be anything substantial in English on the film online and I feel like it deserves some love. I mean, sure, Akshay is still a very green actor in the film but he's also got an unbelievable magnetism. And his physicality is already all there. His stunts and action sequences are really fun to watch and even his dancing, artless as it is, is still fun and energetic.

It's not easy to play a big shot, sexually magnetic playboy-hero-whatever and still be likable but Akshay manages it in Mr. Bond. The movie is just SO MUCH FUN!

I also really appreciated a) that there was an equal amount of screen time given to male and female eye candy. For every heaving female bosom, we're treated to male cleavage shots of Akki's gloriously hairy chest. Buxuom babes in bathing suits? I RAISE YOU ASS ANGLE SHOTS OF AKSHAY IN HIS SPEEDO. I also appreciated that the babes weren't obnoxious, helpless dum-dums. Sure, nobody in the film was breaking into the brain trust business but the girls used wiles, guns, and will power to get what they wanted. And nobody was raped. Not too shabby for an early 1990s film.

And b) there was some great camera work. I checked and it was directed by Raj Sippy, and the only other film of his I've seen, I think, is Inkaar… which coincidentally or not also features kidnapped children.

But

This whole angle with "Dragon" sending reels of film to the police station where they would watch them and react was so interesting!! The way it was shot was as if the filming and viewing were happening simultaneously but they weren't! Very, very nice trick. And this shot of Dragon's face in the camera was so cool!!

The whole thing left me with a feeling that Akshay had it the worst with the turn away from this kind of full throttle action-comedy-emotion-musical masala towards the division into genre films, the Hum-Tum/Race divide, if you will, in the coming decades. And nobody has benefited more from the return of the full-throttle-action-comedy-musical masala… except maybe Salman?

Anyways, thanks for being patient with me, friends. And if you'd like to help make a dent in my medical bills… well, my e-book is available. And at the request of a friend, I'll be splitting off JUST the "Bollywood for Beginners" section into a separate (and much shorter) book and that will be available soon, as well.

Have a great day! And stay cool!

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.

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