Ol' Father Geek here again with another edition of our Thursday Asian Cinema Column, our far east editor Darius25 has put together a cool report on the Bollywood happenings from this past week. But before we journey to India I have this bit that will probably interest you...
Glad to hear about the title re-change, but according to Asian Cult Cinema, Shaolin Soccer will still be dubbed in English and have a "hip-hop" soundtrack (a-la Black Mask). I'd almost rather sit at home and watch my Shaolin Soccer DVD, but then again I did shell out eight bucks for a dubbed version of Drunken Master 2 on the big screen.
Father Geek back with a really great review from The New York Times for all you anime fans out there...
By CHARLES SOLOMON
Since its debut in 1995, Hideaki Anno's "Shinseiki Evangelion" (Neon Genesis Evangelion) has remained one of the most popular, influential and controversial series in the history of Japanese animation.
The television series and subsequent features have earned more than $800 million in video sales and an additional $400 million in sales of related merchandise. More than 800 Web sites in 12 languages are devoted to "Evangelion" and, on a typical day, EBay may offer 1,000 related items.
The eight-disc "Perfect Collection" (A.D. Vision, $170) presents the entire 26-episode series in a noteworthy English dub. "Evangelion" (pronounced ee-van-GEL-ion, with a hard "G") is derived from the German evangelium, which refers to the Christian Gospels but is also slang for absolute truth. Anno's watershed series was not the first anime series to combine giant robots with apocalyptic Christian symbols and elements of Jungian psychology, but it did so with exceptional panache. It's an intriguing and sophisticated work, utterly unlike any American animated film.
The story unfolds in 2015, 15 years after the Second Impact, a cataclysmic explosion in Antarctica that devastated much of the Earth.
Although reported as a meteor strike, the explosion was caused by a human encounter with Adam, the first of the powerful, sentient creatures known as Angels to appear on Earth. The Angels are now attacking the planet, and the defense of Earth rests with the secret U.N. agency NERV. The only effective weapon against the Angels are the Evas (short for "Evangelions"), NERV's enormous cyborg robot-suits piloted by psychic teenagers. The most effective pilot is 14-year-old Shinji Ikari (voice by Spike Spencer, in an exceptional performance), the alienated son of icy NERV Commander Gendo Ikari (Tristan MacAvery).
Unlike the brawling hunks in "Dragon Ball Z" or the grimly dedicated warriors in "Gundam Wing," Shinji is a repressed and reluctant hero. While he attempts to resolve the conflicted relationship with his remote father, he befriends another pilot, Rei Ayanami (Amanda Winn), and is essentially adopted by NERV officer Misato Katsuragi (Allison Keith), who conceals deep emotional wounds beneath a bubbly exterior.
Shortly before the debut of "Evangelion," Anno wrote in the magazine "Anime FX" that his lead characters "are both afraid of being hurt. They might both be thought of as being unsuited to be heroes, lacking the strength of self that marks such a person. And yet I made them the heroes." But those weaknesses give them a depth and humanity many anime characters lack.
"Evangelion" includes some terrific action sequences: In one episode, Shinji and another pilot defeat a humanoid Angel by synchronizing their Evas in a combination of gymnastics and karate movements. But the focus of the series remains the characters' alienation and disillusionment. Shinji's victories don't bring him the happiness and satisfaction heroes normally achieve: Overcome by the strain of fighting the Angels and the revelations of his commanders' duplicity, his ego implodes. The series ends in a long collage of flashbacks and still artwork, accompanied by a protracted internal dialogue between Shinji and the other characters as he conceives them.
These profoundly unsettling episodes suggest animated schizophrenia and recall the chilling conclusion of Yukio Mishima's "Sea of Fertility" tetralogy, in which the main character realizes he can no longer be certain of his own existence. Both works offer a desolate vision of a universe in which no answers exist--in this life or any other.
Almost as soon as they were broadcast, the final episodes of "Evangelion" became the subject of heated discussions that show no signs of abating. Some viewers hailed them as profound; detractors replied that their meaning was more apparent than real. Anno wrote that he created "Evangelion" after four years of severe depression when he was "a wreck, unable to do anything," adding that "the story has not yet ended in my mind. I don't know what will become of Shinji or Misato, or where they will go."
Much of the story was reworked in the theatrical feature "Death and Rebirth" (1997); the second film, "End of Evangelion" (1997), offered a new and more violent finale.
Manga Entertainment will release "Death and Rebirth" on DVD on June 25, with
"End of Evangelion" to follow Sept. 24, enabling American viewers to decide
which ending they feel is the appropriate one--which will probably lead to
the creation of more Web sites and further debate and discussion.
Not bad, got to pick one up... Father Geek back one last time, simply to say Here's Darius and...
Hey all, hope you’ve had a great week. We have a decently packed column for you in this edition, with lots of interesting Bollywood news, including two reviews of Ram Gopal Verma’s “Company”, the complete list of winners and nominees from the 3rd annual Indian International Film Academy awards, and info on “True Love”, “Shaheed (The Martyr” and the directorial debut from Farhan Akhtar’s sister, Zoya Akhtar. Enjoy!
To start things off, here’s a review of director Ram Gopal Verma’s “Company” from movieManiac ((my review is located just a little down below)..
I just saw Company today and decided to send you my review of the movie.
Company is Ram Gopal Verma's Second movie about the Mumbai Underworld, the first being the excellent Satya. I've been pretty vocal about how much i love Satya for its stark realism, gritty story, great character development and the ending which left me feeling very disturbed, something that not many Hindi movies claim to do.
So, I was really looking forward to seeing Company, expecting to see more of the same. Well, i was wrong, and so is anyone who tries to compare the two movies. Company is basically a look at Mumbai's underworld but not in the personal way it was in Satya. Company is about the bigger picture, the people who run the operation, the politics and the gangwars. The story is about Malik (Ajay Devgan) and Chandu (Vivek Oberoi). Malik is a big shot and he hires Chandu to work for him. The initial portions of the movie show how Chandu becomes Malik's right hand man, quickly rising the ranks and even saving Malik's life once. We're introduced to Malik's girlfriend Saroja (Manisha Koirala) and Chandu's mom (Seema Biswas, Bandit Queen) and soon to be wife Kannu(Antara Mali). Credit goes to the engrossing script that keeps the viewer glued throughout the first half, and characters are really well etched here, from the cool, quiet and deadly Malik, to the impulsive and angry Chandu.
Enter Srinivansan, the head cop (Mohanlal, a South Indian superstar). As opposed to cops being shown as typical bribe eating scum, Srinivansan is actually a smart guy who strategizes his moves, balancing politics and dealing with corruption within his department. Mohanlal's atrocious Hindi and his South Indian accent is very entertaining, although sometimes annoying; however, he turns in an excellent performance. Post Interval Chandu and Malik leave India, and the ensuing misunderstanding between the two sparks off a bitter gangwar leading to many deaths. I won't give away more of the plot, you should see it yourself.
This movie is way more cold and impersonal than Satya. None of the lead characters, not even Chandu's mom and wife care that he’s involved with the underworld. Thankfully, no melodramatic outbursts about morality. THe cinematography is awesome, the background score is excellent (Sandeep Chowta is great!) and so is the action. The look and feel of this movie is very gritty, and Verma prefers to use a lot of closeups, which work well to his advantage. This movie is a glossy, high budget flick, displaying a more confident Verma, as opposed to the one in Satya where he was still making his forays into Bollywood.
I do have a couple of reservations about this flick. Its not very fast paced and gets slow in some parts. The ending is sorta abrupt although it has shock value, and it left me feeling a little dissatisfied as i left the theatre. Theres very little humor in the dialogue, altho thats prolly because I compare it mentally to Satya. Overall I think it was a solid movie, with an ensemble cast, amazing performances by everyone. Ajay Devgan, Mohanlal, Manisha Koirala and Antara Mali are great. Vivek Oberoi will go places after this role, he makes an impressive debut. All in all, I recommend this movie. It should go down very well with NRI's and a crossover audience also.
Thats all from me, -movieManiac
Also, “Dilwale” has sent in this little tidbit on a film that he’s a part of, “ True Love”:
I dont know if you remember Dilwale scoop master...well I wanted to send you a link for you to look through...I am working on the Production team for this UK based film which has the makings of a sleeper hit.
The site is www.truelovethefilm.com
Its a Hindi/English film on the lines of Romero and Juliet meet India vs Pakistan....its amusing ..fresh...and I will be giving further details as they emerge.
Now here’s this week’s scoops:
- Aishwarya Rai has agreed to make a one-song cameo appearance for director Guddu Dhanoa’s “Shaheed (The Martyr)”. Also, actress Amrita Singh will return to Bollywood with this film, as she’s agreed to play the role of Bhagat Singh (Bobby Deol)’s mother. Also starring Sunny Deol, the film is set to release this June.
- Kajol has agreed to star as the female lead in Zoya Akhtar’s directorial debut, opposite Vivek Oberoi. The romantic comedy, which will be filmed this winter, will supposedly a remake of “Notting Hill”.
- Here’s the full list of winners and nominees from the 3rd International Indian Film Awards, held on April 6th in Malaysia.
BEST PICTURE (Lagaan)
DIRECTION (Ashutosh Gowarikar - Lagaan)
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE (Aamir Khan - Lagaan)
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE (Tabu - Chandni Bar)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (Saif Ali Khan - DCH)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (Jaya Bachchan - K3G)
BEST COMEDIAN (Govinda - Jodi No.1)
BEST VILLAIN (Akshay Kumar - Ajnabee)
MUSIC DIRECTION (A. R. Rahman - Lagaan)
BEST STORY (Ashutosh Gowarikar - Lagaan)
LYRICS (Javed Akhtar - 'Radha Kaise Na' - Lagaan)
MALE SINGER (Sonu Nigam - 'You Are My' - K3G)
FEMALE SINGER (Asha Bhosle - 'Radha' - Lagaan)
- We have now reached the section where I tell you all about the latest release in Bollywood, “Company”, but I have a little dilemma – words cannot describe the way I feel about this film. Do I say it’s very good, or very powerful, or should I come right out and say that it features the best crime story ever written on paper, or told to an audience, or put on celluloid. By making this film, director Ram Gopal Verma has crafted a tale so rich in detail, and so epic in scope, that it puts many of the biggest directors to shame. “Company” is probably best described as a gangster movie directed by David Lean, or something very close like it.
Verma has crafted a brilliant tale full of corruption, greed, violence and power and provided us a look into a familiar world with a whole different persepective. Yeah, we know all about how gangsters operate, how they live, and how they die. We’ve been through the familiar tale of young novice before, someone who is morally corrupted by a business, which provides many luxuries, along with a one-way ticket to hell. But we haven’t seen a world like this – where wars are waged, lives are killed, governments are changed – ALL WITH THE HELP OF A CELL PHONE! Yes, we keep hearing about the gangsters who control have their hands on all major institutions – politics, law enforcement, banks, casinos, movies, pretty much everything we can imagine. But this is the first time we actually get to take a look this macroscopic view, which is far beyond the local hoods (like “Goodfellas” or Verma’s own “Satya”) or even powerful crime families very much like the Carleones. As the film progresses we’ll eventually learn. as Malayalam superstar Mohanlal’s police commissioner Sreenivansan discovers, that isolated incidents such as rape, murder, prostitution are just the symptoms of an incurable disease – one that has no cure and will never cease to exist.
“Company” doesn’t offer us any false hopes. Yes, there is a narrative track – there is straightforward story filled with many interesting characters. But however good the cast is, they all have to step aside to showcase this extremely dangerous world. There is no real message except for “Look, here it is. We know it exists, but now you can actually see it.” We get to see for instance exactly how assassinations are planned – the different ways of murder, the exact routes taken, the up-to-the minute planning, and the final decisions that make or break the lives of everyone involved. Sound something like you’ve seen before?? Ok, now let me tell you that the person paying the money is in Switzerland, the person giving the orders is in Hong Kong, while the actual hit occurs in India. Those cellphones sure come in handy during times like these.
The Hindi-language soundtrack shouldn’t be a barrier for this masterpiece. The awesome magnitude of the story, combined with slick production values, stylish direction, raw violence, and an extremely talented cast should be more than enough to hold the attention of even the most casual viewer. For anyone who’s ever loved film (or crime thrillers in general), this one can’t be missed. Otherwise, they would be missing out on the best gangster film ever made. Do yourself a favour and buy the DVD right now: Click to order those hard to find flicks
Vivek Oberoi (left) and Ajay Devgan are two dons with some very AMBITIOUS plans: Click Now
Mohanlal – cop on the hunt: Just Click
Vivek Oberoi takes a shot while Ajay Devgan looks on: Catch It Here