Tuesday, November 13, 2007

a pitch for matinees and morning shows

David Bordwell's latest post begins with a paean to the matinee and its merits, chief of which would be cost:

It's cheaper, and the auditorium is depopulated. Sometimes I'm the only person there. I know, movies are supposed to be seen with a big audience; but I've seldom liked the experience of a packed house. Does the humble worshipper in the temple need a congregation to confirm his faith? Isn't it best to commune with the deity alone? More to the point: Even before the advent of cellphones, somebody always coughs or talks at the wrong time.

If there are any other people around during my matinees, they are likely to be elderly folks, misfits, losers, idlers, and troublemakers. This makes me feel superior. But then I realize that to an objective observer, I could fit into any of those categories.

When faced with a choice, I've preferred a Regal multiplex to an AMC haunt. Regal sports larger halls and better sound. With rising ticket prices, a matinee or morning show at a Regal multiplex offered the best value. Ticket prices have gone all the way to $10 ($9 for students and senior citizens) for a regular evening show while matinee prices have risen to $8 (no discounts here; one price to fleece them all). Enter AMC with a new programme called, fittingly in a punny way, AM Cinema (it's over a year old now). This knocks down the price of a ticket for a show before noon on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays to as low as $4, $5 or $6 depending on where you are. This makes for the most lucrative movie deal around as far as I can tell. If you can find a large AMC multiplex (24 screens wouldn't hurt), you can strike a compromise between the viewing experience and the withering wallet.

That page sports an example of the abuse of the either/or construct: A.M.Cinema invites moviegoers to visit their local AMC theatre before noon on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays to enjoy first-run movies for either $4.00, $5.00 or $6.00 depending on theatre and market.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

thought tapas

Sunidhi Chauhan's managed to be the voice behind not one but two attempts to revisit classic Bollywood songs -- ye meraa dil for Farhan Akhtar's Don: The Chase Begins and mahabuubaa in Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag. I wonder if there were other such instances in the last couple of years.

Alisha Chinai's album Shut Up N Kiss Me with its basket full of lyricists (including the lady herself), a collaboration with Apache Indian and Ravi Bal handling most of the music, arrangement and production went by without notching enough appreciation from lovers of trash. The title track alone was worth the price of aural admission. The arrangements mix in everything including haunted castle howls and doo-wop ad libs, while AC's lyrics mix cheeky references (jaa jaa kajaraa re) and conjure a refrain that excavates obscure relationships between fruits and vegetables as well elements from evolution for poetic metaphor:

tuu hai kashmiirii seb / mai.n huu.N bambaii kaa aaluu
[translation: you're a apple from Kashmir / I'm a spud from Bombay]
tuu hai a.ngrezii babe / mai.n huu.N bholaa bhaaluu
[translation: you're an English lass / I'm a simple bear (aka they call me Bjorn the Buffoon)]

Wonder if that was a "back at ya" dig at Anu Malik's paen to the potato in Mr. and Mrs. Khiladi.

Vikram Bhatt's Fear (formerly known as Rooh) was supposed to make a splash with an Internet-and-DVD-only release on Friday, July 13, 2007. I'm not sure what happened to the film, but I do remember something from the cover of the CD of the soundtrack. Right next to the title is the Hindi word Dar followed by an ellipsis and then an extra 'ra'; would this represent a numerological first in devanaagarii? And then there's a note from the director himself on the back: if the music of raaz haunted you for years...fear will haunt you for centuries. There's an interesting pattern to a couple of recent Vikram Bhatt films. He made Speed, which, despite its name was based not on the Reeves/Hopper/Bullock flick, but the Basinger/Evans flick Cellular; and Aetbaar was a ripoff of the Wahlberg/Witherspoon flick Fear; and now we have Fear, which probably has nothing to do with the English film of the same name, but something to do with some other film.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

count the strokes that spell love

The vapid incompetent Dhai Akshar Prem Ke now stands shining in the record books as the first film where Bollywood's hottest married couple Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai showed up as a lead pair. As far as counts go, Dhaaii (21/2) was right too with the pr representing a full pa and a half ra of sorts, graced by a maatraa and followed by the full ma. A few several years ago, a Madhuri/Govinda starrer called Izzatdaar boasted a song called yaad rakhiyo ye chaar akshar pyaar ke, penned by the reliable Anand Bakshi and scored in the predictable strings-and-membranophone style of Laxmikant-Pyarelal. The problem with that line is that pyaar is structurally quite alike prem, chalking up a score of 2.5 as far as akshars are concerned. Yet, Mr. Bakshi breaks new ground and shatters the ceiling by raising the number to 4. One plausible explanation is that the creative muse was the English word love. This was cross-lingual travesty came a year before the lyricist/composer-duo combination heaved the acronymous annoyance of ILU on the cringing populace in Subhash Ghai's Saudagar.

Friday, November 02, 2007

julia, fearless nadia and shakespeare

LL's comment on the last post exploring Vishal's next directorial venture preempted this post by a few several seconds. Vishal's next is most assuredly based on the life of Mary Evans aka Fearless Nadia. Moreoever, there's evidence that Gulzar's working on the lyrics for the film. This puts to rest any questions about whether this was to be the songless film that Vishal has talked about in the past.

In other news, the Big B seems to have let the cat out of the bag as far as Vishal's next (and final?) edition in his Shakespeare trilogy (Douglas Adams had a trilogy in five parts, so don't get slimy with me about semantics). At a screening of Rituparno Ghosh's The Last Lear at The Times BFI 51st London Film Festival, he noted that he was going to be part of Vishal's adaptation of King Lear: He also added that the film will be out in 2008 and the script is currently being worked on and will get over by the end of this year. Vishal is denying this for the moment. Given that he's currently working on Julia (and maintaining a silence about the details), one can conclude that the Big B collaboration might be the next film on his plate:

[...] rumour mills are rife that Vishal Bhardwaj's next production will be based on King Lear. But he says no. "This time it won't be Shakespeare. I can do other things too," said Vishal, who was at the South Asian Film Festival with wife and singer Rekha. "I'm ready with another script and the shooting will begin shortly," he said.

Things are getting a bit too Lear-y here, although it might just be fortuitous coincidence; after all Ghosh' film, based on the late Utpal Dutt's play Aajker Shahjahan, merely appears to reference Shakespeare; an adaptation of the play would do more than that. Just like Macbeth (the source for Maqbool), there's a Kurosawa adaptation to savour.

One wonders if Vishal's ever going to attack Julius Caesar, since he's voiced that thought before.

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