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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Priyanka Chopra milkshake madness & mayhem in West Hollywood

Film Flam Flummox

Although currently in the midst of shooting what promises to be the most demanding and rewarding role to date in her already (justly-)celebrated decade-long film career, a biopic of Indian female world boxing champion Mary Kom, Bollywood superstar Priyanka Chopra has come to the United States to promote her aggressive and ambitious two-pronged salvo into the American marketplace, beginning with unveiling her own signature milkshake, "Exotic," at famous West Hollywood milkshake bar Millions of Milkshakes on Thursday, July 25. While the release of her first foray into Hollywood film, as a voice in DisneyToon Studios' Cars spin-off Planes (out in U.S. cinemas on August 9) is around the corner, the promotional appearance at Millions of Milkshakes was primarily in support for her nascent career as a recording artist with Interscope/Universal Music Group/DesiHits--hence her shake being named "Exotic," after her latest single of the same name, featuring Pitbull.

As I've come to be familiar with (and rather amused by) regularly covering Indian film for over a decade, the popularity and general market appeal of Indian film stars, much less ones in the superstar realm like Chopra, is routinely underestimated--and, in this particular event's case, rather severely so, as it's no exaggeration to say legions of her fans ended up showing up, which proved to not only result in a headache for overextended security (both private and by local law enforcement), but also for the media. With the chaos compounding what were already severely strict time schedule constraints, the expected brief soundbite red carpet interviews with Chopra ended up not taking place for most of outlets covering the event (myself included, alas, much to my, needless to say, vast disappointment; Disney also ended up denying me a Planes-related interview with Chopra at the film's press junket this weekend). However, I was able to capture this interview she did give to Reuters:

I was also able to get some clean still photos of her on the carpet:

Despite the steadily increasing disorder and potential safety hazards (most especially for her fans, who were crowding the sidewalk and street in addition to pushing hard against all of the security barriers), reflecting the openness and poise she has displayed on the big screen over the years and dating further back to her reign as Miss World 2000, Chopra still took a fairly substantial amount of time to meet and greet as many of her admirers and well-wishers as possible, as can be seen in the very raw footage I shot below. (Apologies for the constantly moving camera and unsteady and fluid angles as it was a struggle to maintain a clear, much less stable, shot while literally being pushed around--even in the media line/pit, which quickly became overrun with fans--and various people crowding on the carpet kept on blocking the view.)

Disney's Planes opens in the United States on Friday, August 9 (the release in India, from Disney UTV, is still to be announced), while Priyanka Chopra's first three singles are on sale now:
Buy Priyanka Chopra and Pitbull's "Exotic" single here.
Buy The Chainsmokers and Priyanka Chopra's "Erase" single here.
Buy Priyanka Chopra and's "In My City" single here.

(Special thanks to Sheeraz Hasan at Millions of Milkshakes; Anjula Acharia-Bath and Ranj Bath at Desi Hits; Dana Supnick of LZ Media Group; and Reshma Dordi at Showbiz India.)

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Friday, July 26, 2013

The Movie Report #728, July 26, 2013

The Movie Report

#728, July 26, 2013

  • Blue Jasmine ***
  • Drug War ***
  • The To Do List ** 1/2
  • The Wolverine ***

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

F3PR: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Trailer Premiere to Celebrate the President's 95th Birthday

Film Flam Flummox



On July 18th ET, Yahoo! and the
UN General Assembly have exclusive First Looks

New York, NY – July 17, 2013 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) and Distant Horizon announced today that they will premiere the trailer for the upcoming Nelson Mandela biopic, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, this coming Thursday, July 18th on Entertainment Tonight, with a teaser to be shown on the show Wednesday evening. Yahoo will additionally debut the film’s trailer online on Thursday night. The date also marks Mandela’s 95th birthday and Nelson Mandela International Day.

Along with giving the public their first glimpse of the film on Thursday, TWC will be showing footage of it to the United Nations General Assembly, where they will be joined by John William Ashe, President of the General Assembly; Mr. Ban ki-moon, Secretary-General of the U.N.; former U.S. President Bill Clinton; Reverend Jesse Jackson; Mr. Harry Belafonte; and Mr, Andrew Mlangeni, MP and former treason trialist and Robben Islander. The trailer will be featured in the main program of the day for the General Assembly as part of the observance of the Nelson Mandela International Day.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which TWC is set to release theatrically on November 29th, is based on South African President Nelson Mandela’s autobiography of the same name, which chronicles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming President and working to rebuild the country’s once segregated society. Idris Elba (Prometheus) stars as Nelson Mandela with Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) directing and produced by Anant Singh who has been developing the project for over 20 years.

Buy the Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom movie poster here.
Buy the Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom score here.
Buy the Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom soundtrack here.
Buy Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom book here.
Buy Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom audiobook here.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

F3TV: Luther - series 3, episode 3

Film Flam Flummox

Even after being a bit thrown (and, admittedly, somewhat disappointed) by the Case of the (Two) Weeks(s) emphasis--to say nothing of the rather tidy and swift handling of some more overarching plot and character concerns--of the previous episode, I should have known better than to ever doubt Luther scribe Neil Cross and even slightly entertain the mere thought that he was growing complacent with his ever-complex creation. As the third episode of this third series proves yet again, Cross proves to have, to use a tired expression, a method to his madness--or, perhaps I should say, a downright menace to his madness, as the penultimate installment of this series (and perhaps the entire run of the programme on television) not only brings into clearer perspective the arc of this four-hour stretch, but the three-series journey of DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) as a whole.

Surprisingly and most ironically, if anyone is complacent as this hour begins it's Luther himself. With his nemesis DSU George Stark (David O'Hara) held at bay for now, partner DS Justin Ripley's (Warren Brown) loyalty cemented and confirmed once and for all, and enjoying the first tastes of a new romance with nice-'n-stable shopkeeper Mary Day (Sienna Guillory), our beleaguered copper looks to finally have achieved some semblance of peace--and that most unlikely-to-the-point-of-alien notion gives Elba the rare opportunity (both within the context of this show and in general) to play some lighter notes, which he hits at just right pitch. Luther's borderline giddiness, especially when Ripley arrives at his doorstep to begin their work day, is played just shy of silliness--after all, he would very plausibly have a bit of an exaggerated twinkle in his eye after indulging in a long-overdue release (bad play on words intended) after some long dark, years of angsty repression since series 1--and Elba, infusing a bit of his own offscreen personality, clearly has just as much fun playing it as Luther has with being in this positive space. (Ditto Brown, whose looks of what-the-fuck? bemusement at his longtime cohort's highly uncharacteristic emotional openness and sweetness are priceless.)

Initially, these moments feel a bit jarring, but such as it should be once that work day begins, and Luther and Ripley are thrust back into more familiar territory when a vengeful vigilante starts doling out his own brand of severe justice upon various criminals around the city. The villain of this Case of the (Two) Week(s) may not be as larger-than-life ghoulish as that of the last two weeks, nor are there really any outright scare sequences as in those episodes, but such is clever and rather sly refocusing done here by Cross and director Farren Blackburn, assuming the reins from Sam Miller. Although a newcomer to the Luther world as a whole, Blackburn shows an assured handle on all of the characters, their relationship dynamics, and their respective arcs over the years--which, beyond a procedural plot or watercooler-buzz-building set pieces, is what the hour is truly about. The specifics of the vigilante's motivation are rather moot, the real point being the clear parallels between his actions and modus operandi and Luther's own often less-than-reputable methods in adhering to his code of honor, with the killer's emergence coming as Stark regroups, along with an increasingly doubtful DCI Erin Gray (Nikki Amuka-Bird), in his quest to take down Luther for his law enforcement sins--not surprisingly bringing Mary into the mix, armed with some harsh truths about her new paramour. While given a bit more heft in this installment, Mary continues to exist as more of a pure-hearted ideal than fully-fleshed out character, but Guillory again goes a long way in making her likable and believable through the fine shadings she brings by simply, matter-of-factly underplaying, and she shares a palpable rapport with Elba in both the pair's lighter and heavier moments.

But the most striking and shocking parallel comes from a more macro sense, between this next-to-last episode in this series and that of the first, with some key character evolution and therefore contrast gained from that buffer that was series 2. One character may be in immediate physical jeopardy as a closing cliffhanger, but the one whose fate more precariously hangs in the balance is that of Luther, who once again has his world and worldview upended in most dramatic and devastating fashion. While the audience has witnessed him gain some perspective and tenuous peace over time, there's always the danger of any little thing setting off his innate, volcanic volatility in the wrong way--and now faced with another hugely tragic turn of circumstance, Luther could very well be poised to fall into another desperate and destructive tailspin, bringing back to fore not only his bad habits, but his very worst: hello, Alice.

Visit my The Films of Idris Elba site.
Buy the Luther series 1 DVD here.
Buy the Luther series 2 DVD here.
Buy the Luther series 3 DVD here.
Buy Neil Cross's Luther: The Calling prequel novel here.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Movie Music Monday: Priyanka Chopra gets "Exotic" with Pitbull

Film Flam Flummox

While they certainly are enjoyable listens and show genuine musical potential, Bollywood superstar Priyanka Chopra's first two singles did come with a twinge of disappointment. If "In My City" showed a ready-to-go, mass appeal pop sensibility, and "Erase" showed a refreshing willingness to experiment with harder, more underground beats and textures, what was missing was a dash of her unique selling point as far as the American music market is concerned: a taste of authentic Indian spice. Thankfully, the aptly named "Exotic" not only finally incorporates South Asian rhythms and Hindi lyrics, but also reflects and encapsulates why I've always gravitated and connected so strongly with Indian film music: how it so effortlessly fuses a veritable world of sounds into a seamless and distinctive whole. In addition to Indian sounds and Western dance pop, the track also gets a strong infusion of hip-hop courtesy of Pitbull, who gets a "featuring" credit though the vocal split between him and Chopra is more akin to a 50/50 duet. That said, the voice, literally and figuratively, that dominates is Chopra's, and if the lyrics remain very much in the less-than-profound, merely functional pop realm, that this track finds her carving out a distinctly Desi-honoring musical identity will go a long way toward winning over doubters in her home country.

Buy Priyanka Chopra and Pitbull's "Exotic" single here.
Buy The Chainsmokers and Priyanka Chopra's "Erase" single here.
Buy Priyanka Chopra and's "In My City" single here.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

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