Sunday, 1 June 2014

May Blind Spot- Do the Right Thing

        Once again, I have ended up choosing a rather important film that talks about a lot of crucial social issues. Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing is a film about racial tension which is presented to us in a vibrant, pop-culture filled package that just explodes at the end. It's not a film that I loved but I certainly appreciated it for what it was and what it was trying to say.




        The film takes place chiefly over one really, really hot summer day in a neighbourhood in Brooklyn. The neighbourhood mostly has African-American residents with the exception of Sal's Famous Pizzeria, which is run by Sal and his two sons, who are all Italian-Americans, and a grocery store run by a Korean family. Mookie is a young man who works at Sal's and is the link between them and the neighbourhood, which is full of colourful characters from the three 'Corner Men' to an elderly drunk called Da Mayor and from the "Fight The Power"-loving Radio Raheem to a mentally-challenged man called Smiley who goes around trying to sell pictures of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. We follow these characters around throughout the day and the simmering racial conflict between them that is heightened due to the heat, all leading to a final and brutal confrontation.



         As I wrote above, this is not a film that I loved. The biggest reason for that was because I found it to be too loud. From the way people talked to the music to the colours to the camera angles- it was occasionally jarring for me while watching it. But this is also a plus for the movie and why I appreciated it more after watching it because all of these do serve a purpose in the progression of the story. It is a very rich film of course. The myriad characters are all established slowly and completely. No one is one-dimensional and everyone is very human. There are no villains or saints in it. Even Da Mayor who more or less functions like the voice of reason is a man with flaws. Same goes for the aimless but affable Mookie who "does the right thing" at the end but that too isn't something simple. 

          It's a complicated, political movie that made me realise how sheltered my life has been so far. Don't get me wrong, India is a country full of varied cultures and traditions and people but at the same time, all of us do have a thread that binds us. I have been lucky enough to never have witnessed any serious regional or religious disputes that do take place here and even when I lived in the UAE, I was mostly around fellow Indians. Also though I am part of a minority group in India, I have never really experienced any blatant discrimination. I say all this because I had to really try to empathise with the characters and their actions in the film. I don't know how much that affected my viewing of the film but it was enough for me to mull it over a number of days.



           The acting in this film isn't its strong suit. Apart from Danny Aiello who rightly got nominated for an Oscar for his performance, none of the actors were really that great. I will say though, Samuel L. Jackson, who plays the local radio jockey called Mister Señor Love Daddy, reaffirms in this film the fact that his is one of the greatest movie voices of all time. I could listen to him all day.



          The film's cinematography was very vibrant. I especially loved the bright red wall in front of which the 'Corner Men' sat. And the shot above that almost made me laugh out loud. Music of course plays a very crucial part in the film. From the opening credits itself, where Rosie Perez dances to Public Enemy's "Fight The Power", a song that is played over and over again, to that really wonderful section when Love Daddy lists down all the great African-American musicians, it is a pervasive element in the film. Radio Raheem's "Love Vs Hate" speech was a rather unexpected movie reference that kind of caught me off-guard but I totally loved it.



         Another thing that I thought was brilliant about it is that it's basically an Aristotelian tragedy. I admit I did not think of this on my own, which is kind of terrible because I just learnt about this stuff a couple of months back. The film follows the unities of time and place in the strictest sense. The unity of action is not completely discernible, especially because two-thirds of the movie is spent trying to establish so many characters that it almost seems scattered but it all comes together at the end. As for the figure of the tragic hero, I feel it applies more to Sal than Mookie or any of the other characters though no one comes off unscathed by what transpires.



        Do the Right Thing is not one of my favourite blind spot entries so far but it is one of the more significant ones, both for its content and its bold, cinematic look. I think movies like La Haine could have never been made without it paving the way. It is also a really clever film where everything has a part to play, from a shoe to a photograph, but that's not to say that it is a film that leaves you with all the answers at the end. 



Monday, 26 May 2014

Thoughts

Hello all. I'm back in India and in exam mode. I would skip this post but too much has happened in the world of cinema and etc.

1) So Edgar Wright isn't making Ant-Man anymore because Marvel is officially gone crazy. I knew the "films planned till 2028" was a sign of bad things to come. This especially sucks because Wright has been involved since phase 1 of MCU but due to creative differences, he won't be directing it. Joss Whedon tweeted this in support-
Apparently, things aren't great with him too and I've read in a few sites about how he won't return after The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Just when I thought Marvel will experiment with other unique filmmakers too, it goes and shits over everything. I still love the cast of Ant-Man, IF they remain, and so I will watch it but I am v. v. v. sad about Wright leaving. Ant-Man was my most anticipated film of next year but though it will still release on the same day, I don't care about it half as much.

2) Cannes '14 just wrapped up. You can go to a million film sites and read all about it. All I have to write about is firstly, how Lost River apparently is as bad as I thought it would be. However, if I was being honest, this is all I was thinking of. Like seriously, I spent a day just looking at videos and pictures of the Gos's magnificent return to Cannes. HOW is anyone that sexy? It blows my mind. Anyways, back to the movie stuff or whatever, I am actually very happy about Xavier Dolan winning the Jury Prize (along with Jean-Luc Godard of all the cinematic legends) for Mommy. It's officially become one of my most anticipated films of this year. Other films I am excited to check out are Foxcatcher, Mr. Turner, Maps to the Stars, Two Days, One Night, Lost River (I still *have* to see it), The Wonders, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Clouds of Sils Maria.

3) I don't know where my brain has been lately but there are a number of awesome-sounding films that are in production and I know NOTHING about them. First, there's Trainwreck, the new Judd Apatow film. Okay, I'm not the world's biggest Apatow fan so I can understand why I overlooked it but HOLY SHIT, it has an amazing cast! Brie Larson, Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller (!!!), Bill Hader, Amy Schumer and Vanessa Bayer. Woah! Also Tilda and Ezra back in a movie together! Then there is Tulip Fever which has Dane DeHaan, Jack O'Connell, Christoph Waltz, Zach Galifianakis and Alicia Vikander. It is romance set in 17th century and it's all about tulips and art, all of which sounds pretty and obviously it will be pretty because it has DeHaan, O'Connell and Vikander. Galifianakis is also tied to three other really exciting sounding projects- Richard Linklater's Larry Kidney, which will also star Will Ferrel, Michel Hazanavicius' Will, which might have Paul Rudd also, and Jared Hess' Loomis Fargo along with Owen Wilson and Kristen Wiig. Woah again! Linklater is one of the most exciting filmmakers EVER, and though Hazanavicius' The Search didn't get very good reviews from Cannes, his return to what I think is a comedy, (the story is about a man whose life changes when his "author" in Heaven quits) is good news. As for Hess' film, it's based on a true story about one of the biggest heists in American history and all you or I really need to care about is that it will have Wiig's character using her "feminine wiles" to lure these other characters into thieving and THAT. SOUNDS. AMAZEBALLS. Luca Guidagnino's last movie I Am Love was stunning and his next one, which is apparently a "sexy thriller", will also star Tilda Swinton along with Margot Robbie, Ralph Fiennes and Matthias Schoenaerts. There are all these movies too, most of which sound pretty good but I don't have the energy to write about them.

4) Other casting news- Michael Shannon has joined the lesbian drama Freeheld which also stars Ellen Page and Julianne Moore. That's one powerful trio, right there. Emma Stone might just become Woody Allen's new muse (YAAAAAAYYYY!!!) as she's going to star in his next film with Joaquin Phoenix also. Ben Wheatley's next, High Rise, which already has Tom Hiddleston and is therefore highly anticipated, will now also boast of Jeremy Irons and Sienna Miller among its cast members. I really like both of them and the project keeps sounding more and more exciting. The second collaboration between Jonathan Levine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen, after their adorable and touching 50/50, has a new addition to it in the form of Anthony Mackie. I approve of this. The Helen Mirren movie about a Holocaust survivor fighting to retrieve lost Klimt paintings called The Woman in Gold will now also star Tatiana Maslany who will play Mirren's character's younger self. You all have probably read this in a lot of places already but let me do my bit- Maslany is one of the best actresses out there right now and deserves to be a major star. She's amazing and I love her and those who don't watch Orphan Black should. Finally, Benedict Cumberbatch has replaced Guy Pearce in the Johnny Depp-Joel Edgerton gangster flick Black Mass, and it will also star Adam Scott. The biggest thing about this casting news is that I am officially more excited about Cumberbatch and Scott being in a movie together than the fact that it has Depp. #timeschange

5) Since I have already bitched about Marvel, let me spread the love around and also talk about DC. The new Superman-Batman movie is going to be called Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. BAHAHAHAHHAAHAHA WHAT?!! What's with the V? I do not get it. At all. My favourite tweet about this title was this:
6) Lars von Trier wants to make an action movie next. I don't even know. I have been trying to imagine what it would be like but I'm failing completely, which is fine because even if I come up with some concept, I have fully believe that LvT will totally upend it and do something else entirely which is part of his charm *hehe*. He's also writing a horror movie set in Detroit for Kristian Levring. LvT has already made one of the most terrifying movies I have ever seen, Antichrist, which is a movie I never, ever, ever want to rewatch, ever. I would honestly rather eat my own leg than watch it again. According to Levring though, this new one called Detroit, will have more classic American horror elements than whatever the fuck LvT does. Let's see how both of these pan out.

7) The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them trilogy might have found their director already. Reports say that Warner Bros are asking OSCAR-WINNER Alfonso Cuarón (the caps bring me joy, okay?) to direct the three films based on the Harry Potter companion book of the same name. Cuarón is responsible for one of the most celebrated installments in the Harry Potter franchise, Prizoner of Azkaban and is certainly the filmmaker who set the path for the kind of direction the films then took. I will be incredibly happy if this comes to pass. They still haven't cast the films yet but hopefully they will do so soon.

8) I recently stumbled upon this video of Jennifer Aniston's opening SNL monologue in the 90s which is all about Fight Club because she was dating Brad Pitt at the time. It's super strange. Also, it is hard to believe that Fight Club was so topical at a point of time that Jennifer Aniston, of all people (I mean, she's still spoken of in relation to a type of hairstyle :/), did a skit on it.

9) Posters and pictures- Everyone has freaked out about the Fassy-Cotillard (but mostly Fassy) Macbeth posters, yes? Good. This link has all the new pictures, first clip and the poster of the Daniel Radcliffe-Zoe Kazan starrer What If? This film will give me diabetes. Also the first official images of the majorly awaited Todd Haynes' Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as a lesbian couple on the run in the 1950s have arrived. This film will rock!

10) Trailers- Let's get television out of the way. The Doctor Who series 8 teaser is totally pointless but I need this show in my life already. I have missed you, TARDIS. Speaking of Doctor Who, Karen Gillan's new TV show Selfie, which is based on Pygmalion looks really silly but really cute at the same time, especially Gillan. I laugh at the Gwyneth Paltrow and Lady Gaga jokes every time. The trailer of the last season of True Blood doesn't feature Eric AT ALL! Whyyyyyyy?!! Also, sue me but Flash looks adorable! The guy is so cute. Can't wait :D And Gotham doesn't look too terrible either. Coming to movies, I guess this puts me in the minority but I wasn't too buzzed about the Interstellar trailer except perhaps the last bit in the space. I am obviously dying to see the movie and I do love everyone in it (in other words, put down your pitchforks, internet) but just the trailer itself isn't as awesome as I expected it to be. The Clouds of Sils Maria trailer looks interesting enough but it is really the actresses that are drawing all the attention. I can't help but think that Moretz was born to play roles like this. I haven't seen Drinking Buddies yet but I still think that I will love Happy Christmas, if not for anything else other than Anna Kendrick. I love her. The Life of Crime trailer reminded me just how much I need a Jackie Brown rewatch. I'm most excited about Isla Fisher in this, 'cuz she's ab fab. Disney's Big Hero 6 looks like the cutest thing ever, AND it's a superhero movie too! Yaay! It could very easily be awful but The Riot Club looks exactly like the kind of movie I will eat up, at least for now. I mean, rich, hot, spoilt, British boys doing bad things *swoons*. As I wrote above, no matter how it is, I will be watching Lost River when it comes out. Its teaser is incredibly strange but Matt Smith saying "Look at my muscles" over and over again does win it some points because duh. I don't know about you all, but I have liked/loved all the films that Matthew Vaughn has made so far and Kingsman: The Secret Service looks like it will continue that tradition. Colin Firth looks dapper as fuck. Ditto for his role in Magic in the Moonlight, the trailer of which is also out. I think it looks absolutely charming. Could Emma Stone be any cuter? Finally, my favourite trailer since the last thoughts post and a strong candidate for my favourite trailer of the year is that of Guardians of the Galaxy. I have watched it some 57 times and I love it to bits. So funny, so entertaining and it really gives nothing away. I love the music, I love that it features a space raccoon tugging at its own crotch and *obviously* Chris Pratt is my new dream man. I'm hooked (on a feeling)!

11) And last but not the least, you all totally expected me to post these, right?
I mean, I had to. Just look at the man.

My reaction to all this, btw-


:'( Byeeee.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Across the Universe Podcast: Episode 26

Now that the podcast is 1 year old, MetteSofia and I have decided to shake things up a bit. The episodes will now be available directly in the podcast's new site .



In this episode, we go all scary monsters and super creeps on you as we celebrate the release of Godzilla with 3 monster movies. Enjoy!




Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Podcast Time!


The last time I was on Ryan McNeil's The Matineecast, he randomly suggested starting an international all-female podcast. And yeah....

This time 'round, we spoke about the super-cool new entry into the vampire movie genre, Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive, along with Thirst and Sid and Nancy. Ryan also found out about my deep admiration for Space Jam among other things. Obviously, I had a lot of fun and I hope you guys enjoy it too!


Thursday, 8 May 2014

Across the Universe Podcast- IT'S OUR FIRST ANNIVERSARY



Holy crap, it's been a year since the first episode, This Could Be the Start of Something Big, of our Across the Universe Podcast! My fellow chicks with accents, Mette and Sofia, and I could not be prouder of what we have accomplished or more excited for our journey ahead. Thank you to everyone who has listened to and supported our little international podcast throughout this last year.

To celebrate our first anniversary, we have come up with new ways to make our show more accessible and also to improve it.
  • You can now follow our Across The Universe Wordpress Blog and get all the updates on the show.
  • ALL our episodes are free to download and listen henceforth. Woo hoo!
  • We are also going to change the structure of the show a bit and make it shorter.
  • We totally have a Youtube channel (!) now where we will upload the trailers (!!) of all the upcoming episodes.
  • And finally, there is a new podcast trailer :)


Thank you all once again. Here's to many more such anniversaries :D

Follow us at: facebook.com/acrosstheuniversepodcast
Write to us at: acrosstheuniversepodcast@gmail.com
Find us on iTunes: search for Across the Universe Podcast
Listen to us on: Stitcher Radio
Download episodes from: Our Dropbox page

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Ten: Most Iconic Movie Characters



        There's a new relay race by My Filmviews and Anna from Defiant Success has tagged me and so here I am. These are the rules:


A list of 10 iconic movie characters has been made. That list will be assigned to another blogger who can then change it by removing one character (describing why they think it should not be on the list) and replace it with another one (also with motivation) and hand over the baton to another blogger. Once assigned, that blogger will have to put his/her post up within a week. If this is not the case the blogger who assigned it has to reassign it to another blogger. After you have posted your update leave the link in the comments here and I will make sure it gets added to the overview post.

First, the race so far:

The Iconic Characters
Rocky Balboa

James Bond

Ellen Ripley

E.T.

Dorothy Gale

Indiana Jones

Darth Vader

Mary Poppins

Han Solo


Who I'm removing
Michael Myers

The Halloween movies are definitely part of movie history but I feel that some others like Megan MacNeil from The Exorcist and Ghostface from Scream have become more iconic. Also, I couldn't really touch any of the other characters.


Now for my pick, I had to brainstorm quite a bit. I really wanted to choose a female character and was *this* close to picking Holly Golightly when I figured that she is perhaps more of a cultural and fashion icon than a movie one. Next I thought about going with some really sexy character and then it dawned on me:

My choice
Mrs. Robinson

Mrs. Robinson is arguably the sexiest movie character of all time (followed by Stanley Kowalski and Indiana Jones). Her icon status is almost aspirational. Women wish they could be as attractive as her and I'm fairly sure every guy wants her. But of course if you've watched the movie, you see the main reason why Mrs. Robinson is so enticing- we barely know anything about her. We don't even know her first name for crying out loud! Yet there is so many little clues for us to ponder over about what kind of a person she is and what sort of a life she might have led. She is the most interesting character in the movie by a mile and the one we end up remembering the most and not just because of the legs (again, the sexiest legs in movie history followed by Dr. Frank-N-Furter's). Just like Benjamin, she has seduced us, and I think she deserves a spot in this list for that.


        I now pass the baton on to my fellow chick with accent, Mette from Lime Reviews and Strawberry Confessions.