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

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Movie Review: Thithi

Last year at the Mumbai Film Festival, I saw amazing films both from international and Indian cinema. One of those Indian films happened to be Raam Reddy's Thithi, a stunningly complex and layered film on death, loss and familial relationships. Showing the travails of ordinary village life tied to the rituals of life and death, Thithi is a powerful film, made richer with the wonderful characters in it.

The most extraordinary thing about Thithi is that it is the first feature by Reddy. He scripted the film along with Eregowda, who based the film and its characters on the experiences from his own village. The film utilizes first-time actors, whose natural and effortless performances are the key to its likability.

Thithi opens with the death of the 101-year-old 'Century' Gowda, a colourful character if ever there was one. His death impacts three generations down the line; Century's son Gaddappa, Gaddappa's son Thamanna and Thamanna's son, Abhi. Each man has different reactions to the death of the patriarch in the family.

Gaddappa lives off the land and has long rid himself of attachments, human and objects. Thamanna is too concerned with his public image and taking forward the family name, while Abhi is a happy-go-lucky but useless young man, chasing after a shepherd girl, whose nomadic family has camped near their village.

It falls upon Thamanna organizes the 'thithi' for his grandfather, although he is more than happy to take up the mantle of head of family. Thamanna is also after the family land which he believes belongs to him. He forges fake documents to obtain it as his father Gaddappa maintains his Zen-like approach to the unfurling events around him which all come to a head at the all-important funeral celebration to honor Century Gowda.

Thithi recently won the National Film Award for Best Feature in Kannada and is about to get a nationwide release on June 3rd. I laughed (a lot), I was moved and charmed by the writing and depth of this film. Big kudos to Raam Reddy and Eregowda to bringing this slice of life to the big screen. Try and catch if it you can if it's playing near you. Thithi is a treasure!

Directed by Raam Reddy; Written by Eregowda; Co-written by Raam Reddy; Cinematography by Doron Tempert; Edited by John Zimmerman and Raam Reddy.

Running time: 120 minutes


Friday, April 22, 2016

Trailer Time: The Magnificent Seven, The Girl on the Train, Jason Bourne and The Founder

Lots of trailers out this week, showing us what's in store for the rest of the year. Let's start with the reboot of one of the greatest Westerns in cinema.


The wild, wild west is back with Antoine Fuqua's remake of the classic The Magnificent Seven! With his Training Day star Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Byung-Hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Martin Sensmeier teaming up to go up against Peter Sarsgaard's baddie, the first teaser shows us how the assembling of the band of outlaws and heroes coming together to save a town. There will be much debate on whether a reboot or remake like this is needed after the previous masterpieces with Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954) and the 1960 version with Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, but casting Washington in the lead is welcome addition, for sure. The Magnificent Seven releases on September 23, 2016.

Right on the heels of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl came Paula Hawkins's psychological thriller, The Girl on the Train. The best-selling novel is being turned into a film which releases on October 7, 2016 with Emily Blunt as the titular girl who thinks she witnessed a murder from the train. Along with co-stars Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Haley Bennett and Alison Janney, the movie focuses on Rachel (Emily Blunt) and quest to separate fact from fiction. The first teaser looks fantastic, great choice with Kanye West's Heartless playing over it. However, I am disappointed that the filmmakers decided to change the setting of the novel from U.K. to America. It's missing something essential in the change, I believe. The Girl on the Train is directed by Tate Taylor.

The spy who just won't go away, Matt Damon returns back to the franchise with Jason Bourne. This time, original director Paul Greengrass too is on board to helm this latest film. The first teaser has everyone's favourite amnesiac making his presence known, yet again. I don't know why they keep getting surprised that he returns. You created a super spy, now deal with it. Julia Stiles seems to be the only returning cast member from the previous films, while newly minted Oscar winner Alicia Vikander and Tommy Lee Jones join the cast to hunt down Jason Bourne. The film is in theaters on July 29.

Michael Keaton, who's on an all-time professional high with the last two Oscar Best Picture wins under his belt, steps into the shoes of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc. But as the first trailer begins to unveil, can he rightly be considered the founder of the fast food franchise, when the idea and the conception was someone else's? The Founder co-stars Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch and B.J. Novak and is directed by John Lee Hancock. It releases August 5, 2016.

Monday, March 21, 2016

New Photos: Disney's The Jungle Book cast

Ever wondered who's voicing the animals in Disney's upcoming remake of The Jungle Book? Today, the studio rolled out stunning new images of few of big names along with the CGI animals they play. Before the film releases in theatres on April 15, 2016, get reacquainted with some old/new friends.

(Photos: Walt Disney Studios)

Giancarlo Esposito as Akela, the leader of the wolves
Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Mowgli's champion and mentor
Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, a wily deceiver who hopes to ensnare Mowgli

Christopher Walken as King Louie, the intimidating ape with a purpose

Lupita Nyong'o as Raksha, Mowgli's adoptive mother and protector
Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Mowgli's main combatant in the jungle

Thursday, March 3, 2016

New Ghostbusters reboot trailer!

It's here!! We're waiting until summer gets here to feast our eyes on Paul Feig's Ghostbusters reboot but until then, we'll satisfy ourselves with the trailer instead. Introducing the characters played by Melissa McCarthy, Kirsten Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, a group of scientists who get together to save the city from paranormal activity. Hey, somebody's got to do it. We also get a brief glimpse of their devastatingly handsome receptionist (Hi, Thor!) and some very familiar ghouls. Ghostbusters returns to theatres July 15, 2016. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

New Finding Dory Trailer!

Everyone's favorite forgetful fish Dory is back this summer in an all-new animated feature. It's no surprise that Andrew Stanton's Finding Nemo is one of Pixar's most beloved hits. For many years, the studio resisted going back for a sequel and this summer, the time is just right to return to the ocean gang. With returning characters Marlin, Nemo, and Mr. Ray, Dory sets out to find her real family, her mom and dad. Along the way, she meets new characters Bailey, a white beluga whale; Destiny, a whale shark; and Hank the octopus at the Monterey Marine Life Institute. Finding Dory's latest trailer kicks off the campaign #HaveYouSeenHer leading up to the film's release on June 17, 2016.  So have you seen Dory yet?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

My final predictions before the 88th Academy Awards

Is that time already? Oscar predictions are due. To say that this year has been highly unpredictable is an understatement. Unlike past year, no film has lead the pack. In fact, in the guild awards in January and February, the choices have been divisive between The Big Short, Spotlight and The Revenant. The night's big winner on Oscar Sunday will genuinely end up a surprise to many. The acting races might hold less suspense, as nostalgia is leaning towards Leo and Kate and the comeback kid Sylvester Stallone to possibly end up on the podium. Host Chris Rock might have a lot to say on the year's biggest controversy, the lack of diversity in the nominations and the presenters list looks to make up that. But the big question on everyone's minds is always going to be on the actual winners and the new take on the speeches (are they really going to have a thank you scrawl on the bottom of the screen?). Until then, let's speculate one more time on the predictions. Here goes...


The Big Short: Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers

Bridge of Spies: Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers

Brooklyn: Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers

Mad Max: Fury Road: Doug Mitchell and George Miller, Producers

The Martian: Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer and Mark Huffam, Producers

The Revenant: Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent and Keith Redmon, Producers

Room: Ed Guiney, Producers

Spotlight: Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin and Blye Pagon Faust, Producers

Should win: Spotlight

Will win: The Revenant

My take: From a solid bunch of best picture nominees, Spotlight really resonated with me. A solid cast, a strong true to life story about a bunch of journalists uncovering a scandal and trying to wrong a right over a period of time. But the tide seems to be turning for The Revenant who leads all the nominees with 12 nominations. The film, its director and star all are leading as more and more watch the astonishing film. And it is a stunning achievement. But Spotlight is the better film for me.


Bryan Cranston in Trumbo

Matt Damon in The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant

Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl

Should win: Michael Fassbender

Will win: Leonardo DiCaprio

My take: There is no doubt that this is Leo's year. Is this his best performance? No, I think he was outstanding in The Wolf of Wall Street and the Academy missed an opportunity there. Michael Fassbender looked nothing like Steve Jobs but in some moments in Danny Boyle's film, he inhabited Jobs's essence and his unending drive. Surprisingly that going into this Oscar year, the story was all about Eddie Redmayne's repeat of last year but look how the narrative has changed.


Christian Bale in The Big Short

Tom Hardy in The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight

Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies

Sylvester Stallone in Creed

Should win: Mark Ruffalo

Will win: Sylvester Stallone

My take: This category is a real lock. Stallone has got this in the bag. But it's no secret that Ruffalo is standout from the ensemble cast of Spotlight. If anyone is upsetting Stallone, it's him.


Cate Blanchett in Carol

Brie Larson in Room

Jennifer Lawrence in Joy

Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn
Should win: Brie Larson

Will win: Brie Larson

My take: Unfortunately, I haven't yet seen Carol. Brie Larson has won every major award going into the Oscars and I don't think anyone's is beating her this time. Again, it's great to see Charlotte Rampling here at all.

Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara in Carol

Rachel McAdams in Spotlight

Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs

Should win: Kate Winslet

Will win:
Alicia Vikander

My take: Alicia Vikander, who's having a great couple of years, could prove that she's really arrived. But as emotional as her performance was in The Danish Girl, I thought Kate Winslet was outstanding in Steve Jobs. She completely disappeared into becoming Joanna Hoffman in the film. Sidenote: How awesome would it be if Kate and Leo both won the same night? Sorry, I just digressed to be being a teenager again.


Anomalisa: Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli

Boy and the World:
Alê Abreu

Inside Out: Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera

Shaun the Sheep Movie: Tomm Moore and Paul Young

When Marnie was There: Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura

Should win: Anomalisa

Will win: Inside Out

My take: Pixar's brilliant Inside Out is a definitely a game changer. Making the movie all about Amy Poehler's Joy, it turned Phyllis Smith's Sadness into the film's real heroine. But I was so moved by Anomalisa when I saw it last year, it's a profound stop-motion feature with great ambition and such tender emotion at times, it's hard not to root for it. One day, people will look back and say, what a missed opportunity!


Carol: Ed Lachman

The Hateful Eight: Robert Richardson

Mad Max: Fury Road: John Seale

The Revenant: Emmanuel Lubezki

Roger Deakins

Should win: Roger Deakins

Will win: Emmanuel Lubezki

My take: Emmanuel Lubezki is about to make history as he goes for his third Oscar after Gravity and Birdman, with The Revenant. But Roger Deakins, the master cinematographer, sits with zero Oscars to his name. I hope that someday his great work will be recognized.

Carol: Sandy Powell

Cinderella: Sandy Powell

The Danish Girl: Paco Delgado

Mad Max: Fury Road: Jenny Beavan

The Revenant: Jacqueline West

Should win: Jenny Beaven

Will win: Jacqueline West

My take: It comes down to a frontier from the past to a future ravaged by water wars in the costume design department. And I have a feeling that The Revenant will edge out here.


The Big Short: Adam McKay

Mad Max: Fury Road: George Miller

The Revenant: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Room: Lenny Abrahamson

Spotlight: Tom McCarthy

Should win: Tom McCarthy

Will win: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

My take: Last year's winner Iñárritu is virtually a lock to make it two in a row. But if there's an upset, I'd like to see former actor Tom McCarthy win it for the true-blooded journalism film, Spotlight.


Amy: Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees

Cartel Land: Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin

The Look of Silence: Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen

What Happened, Miss Simone?: Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby and Justin Wilkes

Winter's Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom:
Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

Should win: Amy

Will win: Amy

My take: Asif Kapadia's Amy is my personal pick here. But this category does seem ripe for upsets.


Body Team 12: David Darg and Bryn Mooser

Chau, beyond the Lines: Courtney Marsh and Jerry Franck

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah: Adam Benzine

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

Last Day of Freedom: Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman

Should win: Last Day of Freedom

Will win: Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah

My take: Based on Internet research, this is what the frontrunner looks to be, I could be wrong.


The Big Short: Hank Corwin

Mad Max: Fury Road: Margaret Sixel

The Revenant: Stephen Mirrione

Spotlight: Tom McArdle

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey

Should win: Margaret Sixel

Will win: Margaret Sixel

My take: Still not over the high that was Mad Max: Fury Road and that's largely due to Sixel's (also George Miller's wife) superb editing work.


Embrace of the Serpent: Colombia

Mustang: France

Son of Saul: Hungary

Theeb: Jordan

A War: Denmark

Should win: Son of Saul

Will win: Son of Saul

My take: Hungary's Son of Saul has been the virtual frontrunner since Cannes. I don't see it losing tonight.


Mad Max: Fury Road: Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared: Love Larson and Eva von Bahr

The Revenant: Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini

Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Will win: Mad Max: Fury

My take: One word: Furiosa! Mad Max: Fury Road has got this in the bag.


Bridge of Spies: Thomas Newman

Carter Burwell

The Hateful Eight: Ennio Morricone

Sicario: Jóhann Jóhannsson

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: John Williams

Should win: John Williams

Will win: Ennio Morricone

My take: It's the battle of the musical maestros Morricone and Williams and it looks like Morricone has the slight edge here. Personally, I would love to see John Williams win on his 50th nomination.


Earned It from Fifty Shades of Grey
Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio
Manta Ray from Racing Extinction
Music by J. Ralph and Lyric by Antony Hegarty
Simple Song #3 from Youth
Music and Lyric by David Lang
Til It Happens To You from The Hunting Ground
Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
Writing’s On The Wall from Spectre
Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

Should win: Til It Happens To You

Will win: Til It Happens To You

My take: I've got no opinions on the song here, it's appalling that not all of the nominees will performing onstage. But it looks like the star power wins here.


Bridge of Spies Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard Henrich

The Danish Girl Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Michael Standish

Mad Max: Fury Road Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration: Lisa Thompson

The Martian Production Design: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Celia Bobak

The Revenant
Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Hamish Purdy

Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Will win: Mad Max: Fury Road

My take: Mad Max will be quite a force in the tech awards. It leads in production values.


Bear Story Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala

Prologue Richard Williams and Imogen Sutton

Sanjay’s Super Team Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle

We Can’t Live without Cosmos Konstantin Bronzit

World of Tomorrow Don Hertzfeldt

Should win: Sanjay's Super Team

Will win: World of Tomorrow

My take: I would really love Sanjay's Super Team to win but I have a feeling that World of Tomorrow might win the big prize.


Ave Maria: Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont

Day One: Henry Hughes

Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut): Patrick Vollrath

Shok: Jamie Donoughue

Stutterer: Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage

Should win: Day One

Will win: Day One

My take: Based on Internet research, this is what the frontrunner looks to be, I could be wrong.


Mad Max: Fury Road: Mark Mangini and David White

The Martian: Oliver Tarney

The Revenant: Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender

Sicario: Alan Robert Murray

Star Wars: The Force Awakens:
Matthew Wood and David Acord

Should win: The Revenant

Will win: The Revenant

My take: Sound always wins it in twos, editing and mixing. The Revenant was the most reliant on it.


Bridge of Spies: Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin

Mad Max: Fury Road: Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo

The Martian: Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth

The Revenant: Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson

Should win: The Revenant

Will win: The Revenant

My take: See above.


Ex Machina: Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett

Mad Max: Fury Road: Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams

The Martian: Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner

The Revenant:
Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould

Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Will win: Mad Max: Fury Road

My take: Sorry grizzly bear, it looks like Mad Max: Fury Road's turn.


The Big Short: Screenplay by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay

Brooklyn: Screenplay by Nick Hornby

Carol: Screenplay by Phyllis Nagy

The Martian: Screenplay by Drew Goddard

Room: Screenplay by Emma Donoghue

Should win: The Big Short

Will win: The Big Short

My take: It's hard to make a financial comedy about the global meltdown of 2008 but the writers of The Big Short nailed it.


Bridge of Spies: Written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen

Ex Machina: Written by Alex Garland

Inside Out: Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen

Spotlight: Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy

Straight Outta Compton: Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff

Should win: Spotlight

Will win: Spotlight

My take: The ode to journalism should win best screenplay.

Monday, February 15, 2016

First Production Teaser for Star Wars: Episode VIII

"Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Episode VIII!" With those glorious words by director Rian Johnson, we've officially opened the floodgates to speculation on the next chapter of the Star Wars saga. When we last left them, Luke Skywalker and Rey were just about to introduce themselves to introduce each other. It looks like Episode VIII will pick up exactly from there. Besides these teaser announcement on the start of production for the next film, we also have a confirmation on the returning cast and new additions on the next film.

Actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie and Andy Serkis will all return to reprise their roles. Meanwhile Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran will join the cast for ongoing adventures. If you haven't seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet, then surely you've seen some names missing from this list. Yes, it's exactly what you're thinking. Now, go watch the movie.

Filming commenced on the production today and the untitled next chapter will release seven months from its previous release date on December 15, 2015. So, let's start wondering who these new characters are? Friends or foes?

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