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Friday, March 28, 2014

The Movie Report #761, March 28, 2014

The Movie Report

#761, March 28, 2014


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F3PR: "IIFA Invasion" of America: 26 days to go!

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IIFA’s best performer, Hrithik Roshan to perform
at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

Host duo, Shahid Kapoor & Farhan Akthar are back
to host the Tata Motors IIFA Awards

Over a 100 CEO’s from India to attend
the FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum

28th March, 2014 - As a part of the ongoing preparations, the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) held a press conference in Mumbai yesterday, attended by superstars Hrithik Roshan, Shahid Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar. Come April, the Indian Film fraternity will take the United States by storm, as the 15th edition of the IIFA Weekend and Awards will play out from the 23rd to 26th in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Tampa Bay will bear witness to superstar, Hrithik Roshan’s signature moves as the ace performer takes to the Tata Motors IIFA Awards this year. Speaking on his performance, Hrithik said, “I have been a part of many IIFAs where I have performed at different locales. IIFA was in fact my first international performance and something I have always treasured. I am honoured to be a part of this major milestone in IIFA’s journey as they venture into the United States of America, showcasing our film industry in Tampa Bay this year.” Roshan has previously performed at IIFA in Sun City, Singapore and Colombo. This will be his first performance in the US in a decade.

Announcing the winners of the Zest for Stardom Contest, Ms. Delna Avari, Head-Marketing Communications, Passenger Vehicles, Tata Motors said, “Close on the heels of unveiling The ZEST, a true dynamic sedan, from Tata Motors that meshes killer instinct with elegance, we announced the ‘ZEST for Stardom’ on February 26, 2014, in association with IIFA. The response to this unique contest was overwhelming, with entries pouring from all over the globe, including USA. Owing to the phenomenal response we have received, it is our pleasure to announce that there will be not one but three winners, two winners from India and one from USA. We are delighted to announce that Mr. Himanshu Singh and Ms. Pallavi Kalra –from India and Mr. Mohit Batra, from USA are the lucky winners of the Zest for Stardom contest who have been bestowed with a golden opportunity to share the Tata Motors IIFA Stage with actor, Ranveer Singh.”

This year, the Tata Motors IIFA Awards will see the reappearance of one of its best hosting duos, actors Shahid Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar. After their successful hosting stint in Singapore, the actors will reprise their roles this year. Speaking on hosting the Tata Motors IIFA Awards, actor Farhan Akhtar said, “IIFA’s exalted platform has always given me an adrenaline rush. Having received immense love and appreciation for my previous stint as host, I am excited at the prospects of hosting another year of the spectacular celebration.” Playing host for the third year running, Actor, Shahid Kapoor added, “Hosting IIFA always makes me happy, as it as a chance to interact with the entire film fraternity that gathers together, IIFA is the most prestigious award ceremony which honors the best of our Industry.”

Dance guru, Shiamak Davar will also be a part of IIFA this year as the event’s official choreographer. Renowned for some of the biggest dance performances including his highly acclaimed work on India’s first musical ‘Zangoora’, Tampa Bay will mark Shiamak’s 11th year with IIFA.

Going beyond entertainment, IIFA has long been committed to building bridges between India and the global arena as it strides across the world. With the trade relationship between the U.S. and India at its peak, the FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum creates a perfect opportunity for exchange. This forum will bring together business leaders from India and America to explore new economic opportunities, providing a platform for Indians and Americans to engage in discussion and professional development. Hosted by the University of South Florida College of Business, the forum will be a two-day event on the theme - "Indo-U.S. Partnership: A Catalyst for Economic Growth". Eminent speakers of the event include Rick Scott- Governor of Florida, Bob Buckhorn, Mayor - Tampa City, Vivek Lall- President & CEO, Reliance Industries Ltd, N.R Narayana Murthy Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Infosys, Dr. R. K Pachauri- TERI Chairman and Chairman United Nations Panel on Climate Change among others.

Another IIFA initiative, the IIFA Expo is a world fair to be held at the Tampa Convention Center, Florida from 24th to 26th April 2014. Bringing business, products and services from India and USA under one roof, the expo will provide a unique platform to unlock opportunities for businesses and communities, thereby promoting trade and commerce between two countries and cultures.

Mr. Saurabh Dhoot – Director, Videocon group, on this association stated, “In our sixth year of successful association, Videocon d2h along with IIFA, shares a similar outlook of promoting excellence in entertainment. The focus of both IIFA and Videocon d2h is adding variety and value in its entertainment quotient. Videocon d2h which is now Asia’s Most Promising DTH brand strives to provide the best viewing experience in Asli HD through its DTH services and now reaches more than 10 million homes. We provide a very good platform for IIFA as well to reach out to this discerning audience.”

Commenting on its partnership with IIFA, Hari Om Rai, Chairman & Managing Director, LAVA International said, “We are proud to be associated with IIFA for the second consecutive year; IIFA offers us a great platform to demonstrate the true essence of our products that are a perfect fusion of looks, experience & performance. With this association we reinforce our brand's promise to create products with an extremely strong proposition that will captivate the consumers.”

Sabbas Joseph, Director – Wizcraft International and IIFA said “Year after year IIFA has played out at various spectacular locations world over, committing itself to the cause of making Indian cinema global. Loyal to the very cause, IIFA has always lined-up an array of distinguished events which connect India to a global audience. We are confident that events like the IIFA Expo, FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum and various others will prove to be the perfect bridge between India and the U.S.”

Mr. Anil Khera – CEO, Videocon d2h added, “IIFA is the most awaited Hindi cinema award show due to the scale of its grandeur and global presence. Videocon d2h is the fastest growing DTH service in the country and has been at the forefront of innovation & high quality service in this sector. Videocon d2h would like to partake in promoting our cinema’s rich heritage, cinematic values and its resplendent beauty to delight every individual with the magic that Indian Cinema creates on celluloid through IIFA. This is a very good opportunity for both and we would like to take this association further.”

Gaurav Banerjee, General Manager, Star Plus said, “We are proud to partner Wizcraft for over the last ten years in the biggest celebration of Indian Cinema with the IIFA weekend. This year with Tampa Bay as the host, a fantastic line up of talent and support from the industry, we promise to create a blockbuster evening reaching IIFA to millions of households worldwide through Star Plus.”

The Videocon D2H IIFA Weekend is presented by Videocon D2H and the Tata Motors IIFA Awards is presented by Tata Motors and powered by Lava Mobiles. The IIFA Weekend & Awards will be broadcast globally on Star Plus, for the 10th year running. Visit Tampa Bay is the Official Destination Partner for the IIFA Weekend and Awards 2014 and Visit Florida, a key partner. Freedom Health Insurance are co-presenting sponsors for the IIFA Celebrations, Tampa Electric Company (TECO), a sponsor of the unique community event of IIFA Stomp and Mosaic, a sponsor of FICCI – IIFA Global Business Forum. Vishal Sarees is an associate partner of IIFA and Jammu & Kashmir Tourism, a partner.

About IIFA (International Indian Film Academy)

Conceptualized and produced by Wizcraft International Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and supported by the key members of the Indian film fraternity, IIFA is the most appreciated South Asian film academy. Also, the IIFA Awards is India’s biggest media event. With a viewership of almost 800 million, it is among the world’s most-watched annual entertainment events. From a one night celebration in 2000 at the Millennium Dome, London, the last thirteen years have seen the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) movement grow into a cine-packed weekend of film-festivals, workshops, exhibitions, film-showcases, global business forums and sporting events, all of which climax into the highlight of the Weekend, the IIFA Awards.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review: The Raid 2: Berandal

The Movie Report

****; Rated R

It would have been easy for writer/director/editor Gareth Evans to rest on his laurels and simply duplicate the style and general format of his 2012 Indonesian action extravaganza The Raid for the film's sequel--in fact, it would have been wholly understandable and maybe even expected, given the original's instant cult classic status. But much like how the first film proved to be far from an average action film, with the ambitious and wildly satisfying The Raid 2: Berandal, Evans further proves that he is far from the typical action film director. Not only is he a filmmaker of tremendous technical talent, but equally impressive intelligence--a virtue overshadowed, quite forgivably if unfairly, by his expert way with action, which he somehow takes to even more electrifying heights of creativity and excitement this time out.

This installment does take a little more time to get to the action goods, not to mention takes extended breathers before the set pieces, which actually points up to that aforementioned intelligence. Evans recognizes that it would have been foolhardy for him to try to match, in the most literal sense, the original. A cinematic landmark of relentless kinetic energy and visceral excitement (and my hands-down favorite film of all of 2012), The Raid is such a literally non-stop thrill ride would be difficult if not impossible to sustain for a second film, and certainly not with the same degree of shock-and-awe satisfaction. So at the risk of turning off the original's existing rabid cult of fans, roughly the first half of The Raid 2, action takes a more secondary position to setting up the new story elements. But unlike most action sequels, this is not just "the next adventure of..." its hero, rookie cop Rama (Iko Uwais), but rather a continuation and organic expansion of plot seeds planted in the previous film, picking up mere hours after that film's conclusion. Beyond even that, Evans is also not one to let the status quo safely settle, for the very first scene not only dramatically changes the game but adds uncommon resonance to both the previous film's conclusion and Rama's ongoing internal journey. Now with an intensely personal motivation to fuel his ongoing mission to weed out corruption within the police force, he accepts a dangerous, extremely deep-cover assignment to infiltrate one of the major local criminal organizations.

And so, no longer confined to the derelict building of the first film, Evans builds out his dark and dangerous world, most immediately apparent from the varied looks of the locations, from dank prisons to glitzy clubs, from lush green rice fields to the blood red walls of upscale restaurants. But beyond the greater freedom to show off a striking sense of production design, the larger canvas allows Evans to reveal a vivid and compelling grasp of narrative and characterization. The basics of Rama's assignment is to warm up to Uco (Arifin Putra), the hothead son of crime boss Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo), while in prison, and then once out use his position within the mob to uncover their law enforcement connects. But almost immediately, the mission turns out to be far more complicated than initial appearances. What Rama tells his wife is only a months-long operation stretches into years before it's really even begun, but the greatest complication comes in Uco, whose ruthless ambition and volatile ways not only causes tension with his father but also threatens to upset an already unsteady peace between the city's crime syndicates.

With this film's meatier story and characterizations, Evans proves to have writing and directing chops that go far beyond being an expert orchestrator of movie mayhem, for The Raid 2 remains just as compelling when no one on screen is kicking ass. The performances are especially effective, with Bruce Campbell lookalike Putra delivering a breakout turn as the destructively selfish Uco; a far less showy but possibly more fascinating character is Bangun, whose levelheaded rule over his empire is lent some palpable pathos by Pakusadewo's work; one feels the world weariness and loss that has led to his realization that the most important weapon in maintaining power is to simply offer respect. Uwais, already a naturally likable and charismatic presence, also ups his acting game here as the darkness and deceit takes an increasing emotional toll on Rama. But the added depth does not come at the expense of added fun, with Evans coming up with two action icons for the ages in a pair of assassins, the names-say-it-all Baseball Bat Man (Very Tri Yulisman) and Hammer Girl (Julie Estelle).

And those two are reflective of the even greater giddy abandon Evans displays in The Raid 2; that Hammer Girl uses both ends of her hammer equally when going about her bloody business shows how Evans consistently goes that extra mile. As with the first film, there's not only a nice balance between flashy shoot-'em-up and down-and-dirty martial arts action, and once again the type of action organically fits the context of the given scene. But with a world's worth of locations now at his disposal this time around, Evans lets his imagination run wild, and how. Yes, there is now literal room to stage bigger and more elaborate sequences such as a car chase, but it's not the size and scale that makes Evans one-up his Hollywood ilk but his creativity; after all, a car chase is a car chase, but for it also to be a shootout and a martial arts fight at the same time? The now-series' bread and butter of the pencak silat fight scenes are also more impressive than ever, and as before Evans shoot and edits the scenes in a way that's kinetic and visually clever without being incoherent, always capturing the moves and hence the athletic abilities of Uwais and the other performers with utmost clarity--thus making them that much more awe-inspiring and astounding.

It's no hyperbole to apply those two words to both the whole of The Raid 2 and the gifts of Evans, who proves that he is operating at the top echelon of not merely action filmmakers, but filmmakers, period, advancing his preferred genre to a well-rounded pinnacle as generous with engrossing character and story (and, it must be said, run time--it's 148 minutes long, but without a second wasted) as it is with adrenalized excitement and exhilaration. Evans has gone on record to say a third installment is on the way, but as much as I anticipate that film, I am even more excited about what other boundaries he can most assuredly obliterate in unrelated, and perhaps even non-action, movies.

Buy The Raid 2 poster here.
Buy The Raid 2 DVD here.
Buy The Raid 2 Blu-ray here.
Buy The Raid 2 soundtrack here.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

CinemaCon 2014 in microcosm

Film Flam Flummox


Due to a number of issues (not least of which is the ongoing funding crisis), I will not be doing the extensively detailed CinemaCon coverage I've been doing since 2001. However, rather than let the convention pass me by completely, I am in Las Vegas for a single day today, Tuesday, March 25, to cover all of the events going on, which I feel are a nice microcosm of what goes on the entire week: motion picture exhibitor issues at a breakfast seminar and the annual state of the industry address by National Association of Theatre Owners president John Fithian; a big studio product reel presentation, screening, and after party, today courtesy of Universal, unveiling the Seth Rogen-Zac Efron starrer Neighbors; and the various technological and concessionaire offerings at the trade show and demonstration suites, which open today. So today represents a good variety, and hopefully next year I'll be able to resume giving the full skinny on every last detail of all four days of the big convention. In the meantime, for more immediate visual updates before my official articles post, follow my Instagram feed.

(very special thanks to Heather Lewandoski and the entire crew at Rogers & Cowan for all their helpful and generous assistance at the convention.)

The Movie Report wants to attend all your film special events! Please send any and all invitations to this address. Thanks!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Music Monday: 1st Annual Pole World News Awards for pole dance & aerial art

Film Flam Flummox

For many, the notion of there being an Oscar-equivalent award for pole dance performers would draw a raised eyebrow, if not a snicker--and, I must admit, upon receiving an invite to the first annual Pole World News Awards, I had to stifle one myself. But being always open to supporting and exploring all types of artistic expression, I quickly accepted the invitation to the lavish event on Friday, March 21, held at, appropriately enough, no less than one of the Academy Awards ceremony's more famous former homes, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Downtown Los Angeles--and the highly spirited, always classy, and often astounding program shows that the pole is indeed an apparatus for an especially rigorous and altogether beautiful artform that will only grow in popularity and esteem in the years to come.

The ceremony, affably hosted by two-time U.S. and one-time Australian Dancing with the Stars champion Kym Johnson (whose frequent wonderment throughout the night reflected that of the audience's as a whole), was not without some first-year technical glitches, but any hiccups were more than made up for by the ample and varied performances that took place between award presentations. While the pole is commonly associated with a salacious element, the performance numbers didn't disguise the art's innate erotic energy, but the sensuality was symbiotic with the versatile artistry on display. The styles of the performances ran the gamut from ethereal (an angel number) to more boisterous (a hip-hop inflected one) to literally wild (jungle/nature vibes) to cheekily playful (one involving a lonely sailor). But the one quality that was consistently present throughout was the incredible athleticism, from strength to agility to control, whether in pole-based routines or the high-flying aerial numbers, which the umbrella of pole fitness art also encompasses--as one can see in the brief reel of highlights I was able to shoot and compile below.

The big showstopper of the night was the final performance: Anastasia Shukhtorova performing the number that won her the 2nd Pole Dance World Cup. Set to Lara Fabian's wrenching cover of the classic French ballad "Je Suis Malade" ("I Am Sick"), it displayed how the perfectly chosen song accompanied by creative choreography and astonishing athleticism can make for an emotionally powerful and absolutely stunning piece of art. I wasn't able to clearly shoot any of her performance that night, but below is the competition performance that won her the trophy in 2012.

More information on the PWN Awards and the inaugural award winners and performers can be found on the official site.

(Special thanks to Ebony Simpson at Lucid Public Relations and Pole World News)

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Friday, March 21, 2014

The Movie Report #760, March 21, 2014

The Movie Report

#760, March 21, 2014

  • Blood Ties ***
  • Divergent *** Shailene Woodley & Theo James interview
  • Jodorowsky's Dune ***
  • Muppets Most Wanted ***
  • Nymphomaniac Vol. I ** 1/2

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Press Junket Potluck: Shailene Woodley & Theo James are Divergent

Film Flam Flummox

Not unlike their characters in Divergent, Shailene Woodley and Theo James are quickly breaking away from those of the young Hollywood masses, especially after snagging the lead roles of Dauntless heroes Tris and Four, respectively, in Neil Burger's screen adaptation of Veronica Roth's popular young adult science fiction adventure novel trilogy. In a pair of press conferences on Saturday, March 8, in Beverly Hills, Woodley and James discussed the film, their roles, and the rocketing trajectories of their still-developing careers.

Divergent opens today, Friday, March 21 in cinemas everywhere from Summit Entertainment.

Buy the Divergent movie poster here.
Buy the Divergent DVD here.
Buy the Divergent Blu-ray here.
Buy the Divergent soundtrack here.
Buy the Divergent score here.
Buy Veronica Roth's Divergent novel here.
Buy Veronica Roth's Divergent audiobook here.
Buy Veronica Roth's Divergent novel trilogy here.
Buy Divergent: Official Illustrated Movie Companion here.
Buy Inside Divergent: The Initiate's World here.

(Special thanks to Fons PR and Summit Entertainment)

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

F3PR: AFFRM's ARRAY Releasing acquires Vanishing Pearls

Film Flam Flummox



In Theaters April 18
Coinciding with Fourth Anniversary
of BP Oil Spill

Los Angeles, CA (March 18, 2014) – ARRAY, the multi-platform distribution label of the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM), today announced the acquisition of Slamdance 2014 Official Documentary Selection, Vanishing Pearls. Marking the directorial debut of Louisiana native Nailah Jefferson, Vanishing Pearls will be released on April 18, 2014 to coincide with the fourth anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. ARRAY has acquired worldwide distribution rights. The announcement was made by AFFRM Founder Ava DuVernay.

Following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Vanishing Pearls chronicles the untold story of personal and professional devastation in Pointe a la Hache, a close-knit fishing village on the Gulf coast. The filmmaker delves into the worst environmental disaster in American history just as news cameras leave the scene of the crime. While 49 Million barrels of oil settle in the once vibrant coastal waters, a generations-old community of African-American fishermen pledge to fight for justice, accountability and their way of life.

“Nailah has created a breathtaking documentary set against one of the worst environmental catastrophes in US history by highlighting the economic and cultural losses with a strikingly personal approach. We’re pleased to work with this exciting new documentarian in connecting Vanishing Pearls with its audience,” explained ARRAY’s Managing Director Tilane Jones.

The deal was negotiated by Gordon Bobb of Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano on behalf of AFFRM.


Founded in 2011, AFFRM is the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, a distribution collective of black arts organizations dedicated to quality black independent films. AFFRM's Array Releasing titles include: 2013 Official Slamdance Selection Big Words, Jamaican gem Better Mus' Come, 2012 Sundance Best Director Award Winner Middle of Nowhere; 2011 Sundance World Cinema Audience Award Winner Kinyarwanda, 2011 Sundance Film Festival Official “Next” Selection Restless City; and 2011 NAACP Image Award nominee for Best Independent Picture, I Will Follow. AFFRM’s founding organizations include Urbanworld (NYC), Imagenation (NYC), Reelblack (Philadelphia), Langston Hughes Film Festival (Seattle), BronzeLens (Atlanta) and DVA (Los Angeles).

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Movie Music Monday: Happy Holi

Film Flam Flummox

Everyone enjoy the festival of colors with some help from Aishwarya...

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