Sunday, January 04, 2009

Films in black

Add ImageA combination of sickness and boredom have driven me to downloading a ton of notable black films I've either never seen or have never watched in their entirety.

Here's a few I've blown through in the past week or so:

First Sunday (2008)
It has been mentioned in reviews that this film should have been funnier than it was. This is true considering the film featured Katt Williams, Ice Cube and Tracey Morgan. At the same time, I get the feeling the script wasn't written as an out-and-out comedy. It seems like it was written in the vein of 'movies black church folk would like to watch', casting decisions aside. In the end, the movie was enjoyable even if predictable and overly sentimental. I won't lie. I shed a couple of tears.

The Bodyguard (1992)
When this film came out I was 14. I couldn't have cared less about watching a love story with Kevin Costner. *ewww* Even now, the idea isn't particularly enthralling. I picked this one out though because it's representitive of progresison in pop film. I've never been much of a Whitney Houston fan--my concerns were elsewhere during the height of her fame--but watching the film really helped me understand her aura. She's very pretty and very alluring. And graceful. (Well, she was anyway, pre-Bobby.)

Waiting to Exhale (1995)
This is another one staring Ms. Houston. Ok, as a black female, I have to hang my head in shame admitting that I've never sat through this movie. Overall, I liked it. I couldn't entirely sympathize with the all the characters 'cause I seriously don't get the "He's married but his wife is awful" line of reasoning for sleeping with married men. Still, I could see why this film was so popular. It covered the situations most single women find themselves in and in the end, everyone's happier and better off. Good stuff.

You Got Served (2004)
I sware, most of this flick is so unmemorable, that I think I have seen the whole thing before. I only remembered the final dance sequences but given the acting and storyline, it's no great wonder. Before this viewing I hadn't realized Meagan Good was in the film though. She's a really cute girl and I think her look is pretty representative of the 'hot black girl' image for the current generation. Very LA style...

The Secret Life of Bees (2008)
So obviously, the copy I saw of this was super bootleg since the dvd isn't out yet. I really wanted to see this film because of the cast: Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, lil Dakota Fanning and Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda). I loved Alicia Keys character June. She was so mean it was hilarious. I was a little wigged out at the whole 'praying to the Mother Mary statue in the living room' thing but why let that ruin enjoyment of a perfectly nice film? The message of love and healing was a nice one.

Moonwalker (1988)
I had seen chunks of this as a kid when they used to play it VH1 every year. Watching it straight thorugh was a bit of a chore since it isn't a traditional narrative film, it's a bunch of short films linked together. Watching it this time around, it occured to me that Michael Jackson is a Picasso or Einstein of music and performance. I don't think anyone will ever replicate the level of influence and ingenuity Michael brought to the world ever again.

I'm gonna blow through a couple more tonight. There's no telling what I have or haven't seen but friends are often ragging on me for fairly prominent omissions. I'll probably stay on this track for a few more days then blow through some Bollywood films during winter vacation next week!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

So here I am in a new year wondering if anyone is still reading this blog...
I'm at a loss as for what's coming up in Bollywood these days or as to what films of note I might have missed. What should I watch next?

Believe it or not, it was easier for me to get Indian films in Nashville than here in Seoul. I've been told there are a couple of markets here in town but apparently, they're all segregated to one area of town (Itaewon). That being the case, for better or for worse, I've resorted to torrent sites to get my fix.

I need recommendations!

And, as much as I complained about Akshay Kumar's last cinematic adventure, for some reason, I can't help but want to watch this one.

Part of what kept me blogging in the beginning was the feeling that there was so much more to see. Now that I'm near a hundred viewings, I know deep down inside that is NOT the case. Still, I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel. ;)

Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

India Express shout out!

The blog got a mention in an article in The Indian Express on phoren Bollywood fans.

My buddy Beth (who loves Bollywood) got a lot of column width! It's a nice little masala piece.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dostana (2008)

John and Abhi gay
shows Karan's fantasy in
thinnly veiled story

Ok, ok. There's a bit more to Dostana than that but not much. Regardless of anything else, the film editor on this one was either a woman or gay man (Karan Johar?) because I have a hard time believing a straight dude would leave so many lingering images of John Abraham's glimmering abs and perfect pects in the final cut.

Parts of this movie were so ridiculous, I almost felt offended for the entire gay community, and that's saying a lot. Par example, the scene where the man in camo starts crying about his boyfriend being in Iraq and complementing John & Abhi on being such a happy couple...WTH?! It was ridiculously a bad parody of Jack on Will & Grace.

Ever since KANK, I've been yelling, "Why can't I quit you K-Jo?!" but we all know it's a losing battle. Even as I watched in various moments of horror and dismay I couldn't help but laugh myself silly at Abhishek's behavior in the lovestory "flashback" scene. He looked like he was interpreting a (gay) man interpreting a woman which I suppose he was but the fact that he was three steps removed from reality really showed as he was throwing his lanky limbs all over the place and making pouty faces!

As for the lovely John Abraham, this might be his best role yet: the straight guy every gay guy wishes was gay. I mean, isn't that like his life story? All he had to do was show up. No acting required. Just thinking about it, I would hate, hate, hate to see him and Aishwarya paired together. That would definitely be the Titanic of beauty and non-acting. *sigh*

Basically, the film is only good for giggles. If giggling at men enacting every gay stereotype is funny to you, or more specifically, Abhishek Bachchan enacting every gay stereotype, then you'll find something worth enjoying. Well, there's also Priyanka looking as beautiful as ever. (Bobby Deol isn't much worth mentioning here.)

Also, a couple of the songs are really hot. Still, this one isn't going to make my favorites list!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bollywood is Happier.

I watched half of Singh is Kinng last night, which no lie, is remarkably idiotic.* But this morning on the train I found myself thinking, How is it that I like Bollywood so much better than Hollywood?

Bollywood is...happier.

That's what makes it so endearing. It lacks the cynicism of the hopes and dreams of a thousand atheists--it's Hollywood counterpart. And that's what makes Jab We Met so perfect. An absolutely cynical character gets cured of melancholy by a few songs, some dancing, a series of idiotic mishaps and of course, a girl. What could possibly be more pleasant?

*I won't hold back, I think it was the most widely stereotypical display I've seen in years. If I see Akshay Kumar play another 'dumb as dirt, strong as an ox' Punjabi boy, I might have to slap someone. And then there were all the black people used as props. Robbing people in Egypt, running gangs in Australia, getting the crap beat out of them, and my absolute favorite, completely destitute and living seven to a camping trailer on the outer limits of town. Wow. As if I hadn't lost enough IQ points by the end of the film, Snoop Dog pops out in a turban during the credits. (And why wouldn't he? This is what he does in his spare time.) And yet, somehow, if I had to be locked in a room with this or 70% of the films that have won Oscars the last few times around, I'll take "Utter Buffoonery" for $300, Alex.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Meanwhile, back in Bollywood-land

I've been meaning to post on Jab We Met because it might just be my favorite romantic comedy...ever.

And I'm not sleepin' on Sahid Kapoor anymore either. I get it now. He does this look. And the cinematographer was working it. lol!

The little bit about, "Maybe he's impotent." "He's not." "How do you know?" "You can tell." "But how do you know?" And on it went. Hilarious. Was that even scripted?

This is the first film in which Kareena's performance didn't annoy me so that's saying a lot.

Considering it was recommended by a true B'wood cynic, I shouldn't have expected any less. :)

Is this the future of film?

I was checking the NYTimes homepage this morning when I saw this:
It’s a Healthy Marriage of Faith and Filmmaking
under the Movies section.

Although, Shut the hell up! is not the best response to this--I've been around nothing but potty mouths for the past couple of months--I was quite flabbergasted to see a headline in the Times that didn't indict faith as a source of criminal activity or moral hypocrisy. Could a new day be dawning? Perhaps, but I think the numbers are why anybody's bothered to take notice. A $5k film making 6.5 mil on opening weekend is certainly newsworthy.

Basically, middle America wants to see itself on film. Hollywood only knows L.A. and mostly the part that starts north of Santa Monica. New York does New York like nobody else can...and then there's the rest of the freaking country! We. Do. Exist.

That's the mystery of Tyler Perry and these Sherwood Baptist folks. That's also the mystery of the Napoleon Dynamite film.

Nothing Tyler's done is particularly fabulous. The stories have Christianish themes. The production values are low. None of his stuff is high concept and yet he makes bank every time. His little studio hasn't (yet) been in the red.

Then there's the Sherwood guys--a Baptist church rolling out a production every other year with volunteer actors and crew at more than a 1000% profitable return.

And the producer/directors of Napoleon Dynamite were a couple of Mormons--literally husband and wife--who wanted to make something everybody could watch. And they did. And everyone watched. And they made a lot of money.

It seems like a film's either got to be so big it's got a franchise attached or so small there's no way to lose money these days. After reading about Spielberg and Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) getting turned down by Universal, it looks like the industry's turned a corner. I'm glad to see there's room for--and more specifically--avenues for films that look and sound like life outside the major metros.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

All my best writing is...

Typically the end of that statement would be "on my blog". That's been my excuse for not finishing any scripts.

At the moment, I'm doing a bit of writing and I haven't had the energy to blog. That said, I'm reposting an email I sent to friends here. Also, I'm trying to find time to watch my downloaded copy of Jab We Met so I should have something to talk about sometime soon...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

God-fearing atheists

[title lifted from GetReligon; original Pew Forum study here]

This was the funniest thing I've heard all week! I mean, Geez, don't people have any loyalty anymore?!

21% of atheists believe in God. [ref]
55% of agnostics believe in God. [ref]

Grandly amusing. I was telling my coworker about this and he said, "They must have interviewed a bunch of people who's elevators don't go all the way upstairs." That's one way to put it. I imagine the interview went like this:

Interviewer: Do you believe in God?
21% of atheists: Yeah.
Interviewer: Great. Uh, do you go to a house of worship?
21% of atheists: No, I'm an atheist.
Interviewer: Okaaayyy....
You know something's trendy when the people doing it no longer know why. Equally silly is this factoid:
74% of Americans believe in heaven but only 59% believe in Hell. So where do serial killers go when they die? [ref]
The columnist wants answers and I do too! For real, people! For real!

And speaking of people going to hell, I'm sure this guy has reserved seating: Prosecutors said Chiman Rai had son's wife killed because she was black

This crazy guy is quite close to boo
king tickets: Hangman's noose, gun lead to arrest of LaVergne man (Yes, that is 15 minutes from where I live.)

I'm pretty sure this guy has a real estate office where he sells hell-plots to his parishioners but that's another post for a different day...a really long post...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Race (2008)

brothers hate and love
sex and murder flow as one
stay alive to "win"
As many things as Race had going for it--gorgeous actors, great music, good storyline--I'm secretly hoping not to see many more Bollywood films like this one. One of the things I adore about most Bollywood is its carefully guarded sense of naivete.

Though I was quite amused by the catchy first song of the movie, Rock the Dancefloor--which had a Latin-flavored track over cowboy ranch/redneck visuals, some break dance moves, a few stray black folks who weren't looting, attacking, or gang afilliated, (one was permitted screen time for a booty dance!)--by the last song of the film, I had seriously had an upskirt overdose. Seriously.

I only rented the film since both of the guys at the different markets I go to said it was a good film. Which it general terms. But then, what guy doesn't want to see the some of Bips' boobs? I, on the other hand feel slightly violated. I mean, just when you thought it was over Saif's having another flashback. I mean, I know it was good and all...

Anyways, the car and stunt sequences were pretty solid though. I like cars quite a bit, so that almost made up for my suffering. Also, I had never thought much of Saif (lawd, especially after Hameshaa) but I could sense the appeal a bit more here.

At any rate, my biggest beef is needless violence. Fairly early in the film when the cheating jockey is blown up in his car Saif and Akshay drive off with these ill smirks on their faces. All throughout, there's just too much casual nihilism for my liking. Films like this make me physically tired after watching them.

Let's just hope my next film choice will be better...more like Om Shanti Om, which I still haven't reviewed yet!