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"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Friday, April 17, 2015

New Trailer: Star Wars: The Force Awakens



This Christmas... just seeing those words onscreen made it actually real that by the end of this year, we'll have a brand new Star Wars film featuring some beloved characters and some which we have privately and publicly speculated quite a bit.

The newest trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released with much fanfare. The event was hyped online at the Star Wars Celebration panel where producer Kathleen Kennedy, director JJ Abrams and most of the cast (Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels and minus ailing cast member Harrison Ford) assembled to introduce to the world, the next chapter in the Star Wars saga.

The new trailer really feels like the next generation is taking over and as Abrams himself clarified at the trailer launch, this latest film will be the story of the three leads, Poe Dameron, Rey and Finn having new adventures.  Then Luke Skywalker himself talks about the Force being strong in his family and possibly referring to his offspring having it too! And the last shot where old buds Chewbacca and Han Solo make an appearance, declaring that 'they're home'. I think I would have pretty much lost it if I had been at that panel. Talk about having all the feels! The countdown to Christmas starts now. May the Force be with you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

First Cast Photo: Suicide Squad

While Marvel's got its Phase 2 lineup ready for the screen with three films out this year (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man and The Fantastic Four), the DC Universe will make us wait another year for the eventual showdown between Batman and Superman. Also arriving in 2016 is Suicide Squad, the third instalment of the DC shared universe.

(Photo: David Ayer)
Director David Ayer (Fury) posted a photo from the first cast read through.  Suicide Squad's cast includes Will Smith as Deadshot (very excited about this!), his Focus co-star Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flagg, Cara Delevingne as Enchantress, Karen Fukuhara as Plastique, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, and Viola Davis as Agent Amanda Waller. Ike Barinholtz, Jim Parrack and Adam Beach also join the cast as Hugo Strange, Deathstroke and Ravan respectively.

So, who's missing from the above photo? Noticeably, it's Jared Leto's Joker.  The Oscar winner shed his beautiful long locks for this role and we got a brief glimpse at him taking on the iconic role inhabited memorably by the late Heath Ledger. Ayer also teased the image on Twitter. While Suicide Squad is due to release on August 5, 2016, the anticipation for the film (with its large star cast) has already begun.

(Photo: David Ayer)


First Cast Photo: Beauty and the Beast

A photo posted by Josh Gad (@joshgad) on

Now here's an unlikely group getting together for some fun. Disney's next live action remake, Beauty and the Beast, features actors from different fandoms coming together.  Harry Potter's Emma Watson is Belle, Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens is the Beast, Fast & Furious' Luke Evans is Gaston while Frozen's Josh Gad is Le Fou, Gaston's sidekick.  Kevin Kline, who's also in the picture, plays Belle's father Maurice. The picture was taken by Josh Gad and is featured on his Instagram. Directed by Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) and co-written by Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Beauty and the Beast will release March 2017.  

New Trailer: Dil Dhadakne Do


Writer-director Zoya Akhtar's Zindagi Na Milegi Dobaara made you want to pack up your bags and take a looooong Spanish holiday.  Will her upcoming film Dil Dhadakne Do make you want to do the same on a cruise ship? I'm certainly game to know more.

Featuring an all-star cast with Anil Kapoor, brother Farhan Akhtar, Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh and Shefali Shah, the film's first trailer takes us behind the public facade of a family, the Mehras.

The Mehras, along with a few close family friends, take off on a cruise to Turkey and Greece.  With the parents are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary, their children Ayesha (Chopra) and Kabir (Singh) are venturing off on adventures of their own.  Will Kabir settle down and marry the girl of his parents' choice? Or is the new girl Farah he meets on the trip the one? Will Ayesha divorce her husband and reconnect with an old friend Sunny (Akhtar)? We'll find out this and much more when the film releases on June 5th, 2015.



Friday, March 27, 2015

Movie Review: Song of the Sea


By the time the Oscars were announced, I had only seen three of the five nominated films for best animated feature. I wanted to see the remaining two, Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kaguya. I’m glad that I could cross off Song of the Sea from my list.

From the Irish studio Cartoon Saloon (whose first film The Secret of the Kells was also nominated for best animated feature in 2009), the film puts forth the ancient Celtic lore of the selkie to bring a broken family together. Young Ben (voice of David Rawle) resents his little sister Saoirse as his mother was taken away from him at her birth. As her sixth birthday comes around, the little girl has yet to say her first word. Saoirse finds a shell flute belonging to her mother, along with a white coat, just her size. 

Wearing the coat, she is drawn to the seals in the sea and once in the water, transforms into the mythical selkie turns into a seal with them. Her grandmother (voice of Fionnula Flanagan) finds her washed up ashore and threatens to take the children to the city with her. Their grieving father Conor (voice of Brendan Gleeson) doesn’t know how to engage with his kids and lets her take them away. However, with Saoirse finding the flute and the coat, a buzz of awareness has awakened in the remaining fairy creatures and those trapped by the timeworn prophecy, seeking their saviour.

Ben, angry at being separated from his father, his home and his beloved dog Lug, decides to head back to their lighthouse on the island. When Saoirse tags alongside him, the siblings discover hidden memories that surface and lead to break the ancient prophecy. Saoirse learns the song of the sea. And most importantly, Ben saves his sister when it counts the most and learns a valuable lesson on how to keep a promise.

The animation is wonderful, lyrical and fluid. Each character is detailed well; the characters don’t communicate well with each other initially so it’s important that their feelings are shown in their movements. The backgrounds are lovely watercolours, incredibly soothing to the eye. I loved that the old myth of the selkie along with the songs and stories Ben’s mother tells him as a young child were woven into the narrative to show the past and present melding together to show the importance of moving on and living your life.

With Studio Ghibli and its picturesque features of wonder and awe closing shutters for now, I look forward to see what director Tomm Moore and the studio has up its sleeve. I hope you too discover Song of the Sea and see this strikingly graceful animated feature. This is a fantastic film for the whole family.

Directed by Tomm Moore; Screenplay by Will Collins; Original Story by Tomm Moore; Editing by Dranagh Bryne; Music by Bruno Coulais

Rating: 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Movie Review: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, an unlikely sequel, is like that stranger who you once met while waiting at a queue and became fast friends. You never thought you'd see them again, which is why I view this film in such an affectionate light.

Directed by John Madden (who also helmed the first film), the film pops back into the lives of those British senior citizens (reinventing their life in India) and the intrepid entrepreneur Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) whose vision brought them all together. The chaos of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has largely died down and replaced with the hustle bustle of an upcoming wedding. Sonny is to marry his fiancée Sunaina (Tina Desai) in a few days while negotiating with an American company to expand his business with more hotels.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has been running to full capacity with its patrons now working in India as well. There's no rest for these active retirees. Evelyn (Judi Dench) sources materials for a clothing startup, Douglas (Bill Nighy) gives misinformed tours of Jaipur landmarks, Madge (Celia Imrie) and Norman (Ronald Pickup) run the Viceroy Club for expats while Mrs Donnelly (Maggie Smith) handles the hotel operations. They've all found their purpose again.

In walk in two new guests, one, the meek Lavinia Beech (Tamsin Grieg) looking for a place for her mother and the other, a dashing American Guy Chambers (Richard Gere) who wants to start to write a book. Sonny is convinced the Chambers is the inspector sent by his potential American investor to scout out his hotel. This and other misunderstandings lead to him being distracted with his wedding plans. Of course, all these kerfuffles get sorted out on the way to a big fat Indian wedding celebration. But along the way, these retirees learn that reinvention takes a lot of work, while Sonny learns how to put others before himself. 

With the median age of the actors onscreen in the late 60s, most of the cast from the first film (minus Tom Wilkinson) is back. This time, veterans Dench and Smith get the most screen time as they adjust to their new leadership roles. Their scenes together are stellar and there's great warmth between these two great actresses and friends. The newbie of the group Richard Gere engages in a possible romance with Sonny's mother (Lillette Kapoor), while Douglas tries to initiate one with Evelyn. 

There are terrific one-liners (mostly from Maggie Smith) and the dusty locales of Jaipur and Mumbai are spruced up by Ben Smithard's gorgeous cinematography. My only gripe with the film was its use of Bollywood music which was stuck 10 years in the past. Not one current song could be heard. It could have been due to copyright issues but I wish the music was updated. No Indian sangeet or wedding would played outdated music, but that's just a minor niggle.

Overall, The Second Best Exotic Marigold is a wonderful follow-up to 2011's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The fact that the sequel too debuted at #1 at the box office in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the UK is proof that audiences don't just want to superhero franchises and dystopian thrillers onscreen. Screenwriter Ol Parker created a fitting environment in which the original characters could return. It may not be everyone's cup of tea and like the title suggests it will run second best to its predessor. But somehow, I can't help but regard the film with fondness. 

Directed by John Madden; Screenplay by Ol Parker; Cinematography by Ben Smithard; Edited by Victoria Boydell; Music by Thomas Newman

Rating:




Saturday, March 14, 2015

Short Film Review: Frozen Fever


A day before the short film, Frozen Fever, accompanied Cinderella in theatres, Disney announced the inevitable news, the hugely popular 2013 film was getting a sequel. Cue the jokes of not letting it go!

While there's no release date set as yet, fans will have to make do with original film and this new short for the time being.  Speaking of Frozen Fever, it was utterly delightful. For those of you who may been wondering what Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) have been up to, they took a slight detour to Once Upon a Time and are now living happily ever after in Arendelle.

Frozen Fever brings back the whole gang from the first film. Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Sven and yes, Olaf (voice of Josh Gad) return as everyone plans a big celebration for Anna's birthday. Even Hans (Santino Fontana) makes a memorable appearance. Even the crew (the directors, producers and musical composers) is the same.


Elsa leaves no stone unturned to make the day as memorable as possible for her, but it turns out that she's got a cold and when she sneezes, adorable snowmen pop out.  This whole time, we thought the cold didn't bother her. What else has the first film been lying to us about? Will we find out why in the sequel about this?


But we won't worry about that here. Enjoy the brand new song by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, Making Today a Perfect Day, Elsa's new green dress and Olaf's antics (he doesn't know how to spell!). It's a long time until Frozen 2: We Will Never Let It Go and you'll need Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf to keep you company.

Rating: 




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