Pakistani soaps Humsafar and Zindagi Gulzar Hai now on Netflix!

I finished up watching The Crown (so good!) and all of a sudden there were new recommended for me shows on Netflix.  Usually, Netflix turns over new content at the beginning of the month, but this time, it was mid-month.  My jaw dropped.

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The Pakistani soaps Humsafar (Soulmates) and Zindagi Gulzar Hai (Life is a Rose Garden) are now streaming in glorious HD with subs on Netflix!  Netflix gave me an early holiday gift!  To say I was excited would be an understatement.

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I was literally jumping up and down in my family room.

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Why was I so excited?  I fell, and fell hard for Pakistani actor Fawad Khan when he debuted in the Bollywood/Disney film Khoobsurat with Sonam Kapoor in 2014.

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At that time, I wanted to see more of his work, and there was nothing else on film, but he had done two soaps in Pakistan that were sensations in both that country and India.  ErosNow.com put all the episodes of Humsafar to stream on their site with subs and I was totally hooked.

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These soaps are not like American soaps that are open ended.  These productions are just one season or about 25 episodes long.  They have a complete story arc.

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Humsafar also stars Pakistani actress Mahira Khan who will debut in the Bollywood film Raees opposite Shahrukh Khan next month.  (Bonus!  There’s another Mahira Khan soap on Netflix, Saqday Tumharay).

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In Humsafar, Mahira is the poor cousin of Fawad.  Her mother is dying of cancer and asks Fawad’s father to arrange their marriage so she knows her daughter will be taken care of.  It’s rich boy/poor girl with a love triangle and a scheming mother-in-law.  To me, it was absolutely fascinating to get a glimpse of life in Pakistan and Fawad is amazing.

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Zindagi Gulzar Hai is even better but was much more of a challenge to find with subtitles, and there were a few episodes I never could find with subs, but I watched anyway because I was hooked right from the first episode.  I am thrilled to be able to watch this with subs, and in high def since I was scrounging on Youtube and Pakistani sites to find the episodes in questionable quality.  Again, we have the poor girl (Sanam Saeed as Khasaf) and the rich boy (Fawad Khan as Zaroon) dynamic but both characters are flawed and complex.  It’s also hate-to-love which is just about my favorite romance trope.

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Zaroon and Khasaf meet in college, and Zaroon is frosted that this arrogant girl bests him in the class rankings.  Khasaf thinks Zaroon is a shallow playboy, and Zaroon thinks Khasaf is a too traditional stick in the mud.  It’s just delicious to see their feelings change over time.  Your heart aches for Khasaf who has so many struggles in her life, but she’s also so prickly a character.  I loved what a spitfire she is.  Pakistani actor Javed Sheikh, who was SRK’s father in Om Shanti Om, plays Fawad Khan’s father.

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The proposal scene (which I can’t find with subs) is just the ultimate.  Khasaf can’t believe the guy who hated her through college now wants to marry her, but is convinced he’s changed when he catches hot chai in his hands when it’s about to spill on her.

 

But it doesn’t just end there — there’s more to the story as they adjust to each other in their marriage and have to accommodate for Khasaf’s career in the civil service.  The reason Khasaf scoffs at marriage and men is because of her complex relationship with her father who married a second wife to get a son, and abandoned his first wife and daughters.  I just loved getting to see these actors portray complex characters who grow and change over time.  Highly, highly recommend both soaps.  I’m going to enjoy watching those episodes I couldn’t find previously with subs, and trying Mahira’s other soap.  I love how Netflix is getting content from all over the world!

Check out this post on BrownGirl to get a sense of what a sensation both Humsafar and Zindagi Gulzar Hai were in Pakistan and India when they first aired.

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Another new addition to the Netflix line up is the excellent Israeli film Sand Storm.  It was the winner at Sundance for World Cinema last January.  It’s set in the Bedouin community in Israel. Sand Storm is a family drama where the father in the family marries a second wife, and his headstrong daughter has a secret affair with a boy from another tribe she’s met at college.  Such a great film!  The Q and A was fascinating with the Israeli director Elite Dexer.  She said that most audiences see the film as an intense drama, but when she showed it to the Bedouin community where she was allowed to film it, they laughed and viewed it as a comedy, especially the put upon husband dealing with two strong willed wives.

 

Check out AccessBollywood for an up to date list of Indian content on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

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Dangal Review – Aamir Khan in his first biopic as the father of the wrestler Phogat sisters

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There have been a string of inspiring movies about empowering girls in sports recently in Indian cinema.  Just this year there’s been Sultan and the boxing movie Irudhi Suttru.  Dangal is not groundbreaking because it’s about the first women wrestler to win a gold at the Commonwealth games (and then the first Indian woman wrestler to make the Olympics.)  What’s groundbreaking is that Aamir Khan plays his age, and shows it.

He’s not the first of the three Khan’s to play a father.  Salman was just a father figure in Bajranig Bhaijaan and while Shahrukh Khan played a widowed father in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai to little Anjali, he also was still acting like he was still in high school!  Aamir Khan took the bold step of actually playing a father of young adult girls with gray hair and a paunch.

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An Aamir Khan film is a true event since he is only making at most one a year, but it’s been two years since the blockbuster PK.  I’m glad he took the time to make this one right.  He’s so method that he gained lots of weight to show the older Mahavir Singh Phogat, and then lost it over months to play the younger wrestler in his prime.

From what I’m gathering some of the true events of the sisters Geeta and Babita and their coach and father Mahavir were changed for dramatic purposes.  But the basic outline remains.  They lived in a rural village in Haryana, an area that has one of the worst women to men ratios in India.  The film shows what the girls’ life could have been — married off by age 14.  Mahavir had four girls and no sons, so he decides gold is gold, and will train his daughters to be wrestlers to win gold for India.

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They took their time putting this movie together, and the casting is just exceptional.  The girls at the young ages are really good young actresses, and the older girls phenomenal.  Aamir lived with all four girls that were playing his daughters while they trained in wrestling together.  It paid off in a comfortable family relationship with the girls.  You can see the warm rapport they have with Aamir on the recent Koffee with Karan episode that aired last weekend.

aamir-dangal-trailer-759I loved the structure of the first half, as Aamir decides to train the girls in wrestling after they beat up a couple of boys (as we see in the trailer.)  The local wrestling school won’t let the girls train, so he builds his own mud arena for their training.  At one point the girls rebel against his strict regimen, and I loved how they impishly reset the time on his alarm clock and so on.

This is a film all about the relationship of a father and his daughters.  There is no romance subplot.  It’s another wrestling movie like Sultan, but it’s completely different than Sultan.  The conflict comes in Mahavir’s unwavering dream of gold medals for his girls and all that he puts them through to give them enough grit to accomplish it.

The second half conflict comes when Geeta reaches a level where she must move to another city to train with the national wrestling team under a new coach.  I adored a scene where the other girls on the team introduce her to DDLJ.  Geeta’s first visit home is quite bumpy in their relationship, and one of the most gripping scenes in the movie to me is when a quarrel over her new techniques learned from her new coach ends in Geeta and her father wrestling, and wrestling hard.  I actually gasped out loud it got so intense.

dangal-hd-imagesSince this is a real life biopic, we know the ending, but it’s the journey getting there that is so enjoyable.  It’s really an incredible story, and the neighbor I went with said she wants to take her young sons to see it.  It’s a great family film.  There’s no sex or bad language or violence.  It’s not bloody like boxing movies.  I was very glad of a nice little scene that explained the point system in wrestling so I could follow along when we got to the big matches.  The story is simple, and if it wasn’t real life, would almost be unbelievable that one father could train two girls to be gold medal winners.

Sports movies are really not my favorites, but I found the story really compelling.  Aamir is a driving force in the movie, but all four actresses really get to shine on their own, especially newcomers Sakshi Tanwar as Geeta and Fatima Sana Shaikh as younger sister Babita.  There’s a plot twist that I won’t spoiler that leads Geeta’s father to not be present at her gold winning match.  In retrospect, it was purposeful to show that she wins it on her own merit and grit – not because her savant coach father was yelling what to do throughout the match.

I’m glad they cast unknown actresses in these roles, because I could really just see them as Geeta and Babita.  But even Aamir, with so much screen presence truly disappeared into his role as Mahavir.  That’s a great actor.  He’s like Daniel Day-Lewis in that way, and equally devoted to his craft.  I applaud Aamir for getting this film made, as it has a great message, and not just for girls.  There are only a few songs, but they are woven into the film seamlessly, and make sense in their place in the movie.

star_rating_4_of_5

Merry Chrismukkah!

1aa624cb-214e-4320-8c38-186ce771c846.jpgI was a HUGE fan of the show The O.C. back in the day, not least because of the incredible music on the show.  The music supervisor for The O.C. was legendary in finding new cool bands to feature.  Thanks to The O.C. I learned about Imogen Heap, Spoon, Phantom Planet, and the list goes on.  I bought every one of the six soundtrack Mix albums.  But an all-time favorite is Mix #3, the Chrismukkah album.

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Chrismukkah is the best holiday ever, and Seth Cohen of The O.C. gave a name to just what we do in my house.  My husband is Jewish, and I grew up Christian so we do both.  I sent many a Chrismukkah card after The O.C. episode that perfectly described our family’s combo celebration (Oh, Seth Cohen how I miss you!):

 

While we’ll always have the Wham! original, this is my favorite cover of Last Christmas by Jimmy Eat World:

 

This is my second favorite song from the Chrismukkah album. Maybe This Christmas by Ron Sexsmith:

 

Song of the Day – The Chieftains Wren in the Furze

 

For many, their favorite album of Christmas music is the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, or maybe Barbra Striesand.  My favorite is The Chieftains Bells of Dublin album.  I actually had to buy it a second time because I wore it out.  I adore every track, and it’s a mix of collaborations with pop singers like Jackson Browne and full choral pieces.  This is one with just The Chieftains ensemble – a song I had never heard before this album, but it’s become a favorite.

This is another holiday favorite from this album:

It Isn’t Christmas until Bing and Bowie sing The Little Drummer Boy (Peace On Earth)

This is one of my holiday classics I have to watch every year.  Reportedly, Bing Crosby had no idea who this Bowie person was.  It’s just such a wild juxtaposition, and their voices together glorious.  It almost didn’t happen.

In 2014, Merrie Olde Christmas writers Larry Grossman and Buz Kohan remembered the circumstances behind the collaboration. The pitch was originally to have the pair duet on “Little Drummer Boy,” but Grossman told PBS that Bowie put his foot down.

“He said, ‘I won’t sing that song. I hate that song I’m doing this show because my mother loves Bing Crosby.’ ”

The writers found a solution: Craft a counter-melody that Bowie could sing while Crosby proceeded with “Little Drummer Boy.” “It all happened rather rapidly. I would say within an hour, we had it written and were able to present it him again,” Kohan explained to PBS. Bowie loved the resulting melody, called “Peace on Earth,” and the rest was history.

Bing Crosby’s children talked about the odd pairing, which took place a month before their father Bing, died.  David Bowie wasn’t excited about it, but did it because his mother was such a huge fan of Crosby.

“The doors opened and David walked in with his wife. They were both wearing full-length mink coats, they have matching full makeup and their hair was bright red,” she told the summer TV critics’ tour Wednesday. “We were thinking, `Oh my god.'”

Nathaniel Crosby added, “It almost didn’t happen. I think the producers told him to take the lipstick off and take the earring out. It was just incredible to see the contrast.”

Watching in the wings, the Crosby kids noticed a transformation.

“They sat at the piano and David was a little nervous,” Mary Crosby recalled. “Dad realized David was this amazing musician, and David realized Dad was an amazing musician. You could see them both collectively relax and then magic was made.”

Ye Maaya Chesave – Sweet early romance drama with Naga Chaitanya and Samantha Prabhu

Serendipity smiled down on me.  I’ve been so busy with holiday nonsense that I haven’t had time to watch movies much the last few weeks.

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 I actually have owned this movie, Ye Maaya Chesave (What Magic Have You Done — a very appropriate title) for months.  I bought it in a DVD bundle when I took a chance on a Bhavani DVD order.  Another movie in the bundle, starring Nagarjuna in King, I did not like that much and this other DVD got pushed to the back of the pile.  I was looking for something else this week and came upon it.  When I ordered it, I did not know either actor in that front cover pic, but they sure look familiar to me now!
This was Samantha Prabhu’s first movie! This was only Naga Chaitanya’s second film from 2010.  That’s why it was bundled with his father’s movie!  Evidently, it was a huge Telugu hit.  The director, Gautham Menon just directed Chaitanya again in that movie I saw in the theater last month, Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo   (FYI, if you don’t know Samantha and Chaitanya recently got engaged in real life.)
I will tell you straight out that both leads show that this is an early film.  There’s sort of a fidgeting to some scenes like they don’t quite know what to do with themselves — they don’t yet have that confident screen presence they do now.
ye-maya-chesave-movie-stills-_26_But there are a few scenes that are just pure magic! The awkwardness and how young they look fit with the characters.  Poor Chaitanya has got acne, and Samantha is so baby-faced!
The movie starts in a church and Jessie (Samantha Prabhu) is the bride, and Karthik (Chaitanya) is sitting in the pews with his head in his hand. “Why did I have to fall in love with Jessie?”  And, flashback for half the movie.
It’s young first love.  Forbidden love because she’s Christian and he’s Hindu.  He’s a jerk in front of her brother and father and they hate him.  But oh my gosh the young love is so sweet, but sometimes with a little edge to it.  Karthik wants to be a film director and doesn’t have a job, which on top of being Hindu does not endear him to Jessie’s dad.  Poor Jessie’s only been allowed to see five films her whole LIFE.  (Also, nice twist that the girl is two years older than the boy.)
Real life director, Puri Jagannadh (Pokiri), cameos as the director on whose film Karthik finally gets a job as an assistant director.
There are many twists to the story.  Karthik is a jerk and needs to grow up in the worst way.  Jessie needs to get a spine at moments, but then does so in spectacular fashion.  It’s one of those movies that feels both like a real complicated relationship, and also so filmi with moments for love songs that just sweep you away.
The ending is just filmi swoon inducing.  I had to play the last 10 minutes all over again when I finished because this one speech of Karthik’s at the end —  just the best.
The music is all A R. Rahman and is an awesome soundtrack.  This director films his movies in Tamil and Telugu at the same time — but with different casts.  I was absolutely tickled at the exotic locale for this fantasy song when he’s first falling — Princeton!!
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I really loved how the song Kundanapu Bomma was edited into the film.  Karthik is having this fantasy of sweeping Jessie off her feet and taking her in his arms and kissing her.  And the action goes back in forth from the fantasy to the reality of his first tentative kisses, and then the slap he gets!  (I’ve marked the video about where that bit starts.)
Evidently Samantha the actress is half Telugu and half Malayalam, and her character is as well.  So key parts of the movie are in Kerala.  The wedding scene with her bridal boat approaching the big white church is just stunning.  I got a kick out of fish out of water Telugu Karthik and his friend to make their way in Kerala.  “Guys in colored lungis are going to beat us up, Karthik, why do we have to go to Kerala?!” 
1323341228631871Thanks to this film, I now have maybe my all time favorite line in an Indian movie.  When the two lead characters meet in Central Park in NYC, they hug and then the guy says, “This is America!  I can kiss you in the middle of the road!”  And he does, repeatedly.
So glad I own this one but I found the whole thing is on Youtube with subs!
I’m going to tell my husband “This is America!  I can kiss you in the middle of the road!”
star_rating_4_of_5

La La Land – This movie is so glorious I actually cried tears of joy in the theater

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I knew I was going to love La La Land, Damien Chazelle’s new film musical, but I wasn’t really ready for how it made me feel watching it in the theater today.  Damien Chazelle blew me away with Whiplash, an intense movie about a jazz drummer which opened Sundance a few years ago, and garnered J. K. Simmons a Supporting Actor Oscar.  The success of Whiplash let him make the musical movie he’d always dreamed of.

I went to see La La Land alone today because I. Could. Not. WAIT, but I will be dragging everyone I can to go see it on the big screen.  I want to see it as many times as I possibly can.  Critics have swooned, even Manohla Dargis wrote about how swept away she was watching it the second time.

I love movie musicals.  I live and breathe them.  I fell hard for Fred Astaire, adore Gene Kelly and the list goes on.  Those films of the past had magic.  Yes, they were earnest and wore their heart on their sleeve, but can anything convey like a song that heavenly feeling of falling in love?  Musicals have fallen out of fashion in cynical Hollywood as of late.  They are rare or you have to watch a Disney animated film to see one.  I have turned to Indian films to get my musical fix.

 

Today, in the theater, Damien Chazelle gave me the most precious gift.  He gave me a Hollywood musical, steeped in the traditions and with a love for Hollywood musicals of the past, and also fresh and adult and modern.  The movie made me smile from the first frames as an LA traffic jam leads to people getting out of their cars to dance and sing.

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Then we meet Emma Stone’s Mia, a struggling actress and Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian, a struggling Jazz piano player.  They run into each other a few times and banter before this glorious spontaneous dance:

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How gorgeous is that shot?!  The sunset on the hills, her yellow dress and red hair.  How they have those matching shoes.

There are bumps along the way, but one night they go to the Griffith Observatory after seeing Rebel With A Cause.  And then they fall in love, and the music takes them up into the stars.  I seriously started crying tears of joy at this.  I didn’t just choke up.  Tears were running down my face I was so happy.

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I loved all the camera tricks that Chazelle uses.  He’s studied the masters and gone even a step further.  This is a film where Damien Chazelle takes the every day and makes it part of a musical number.  We meet Mia’s roommates and a blow dryer gives Mia a moment worthy of a Bollywood number:

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People don’t just walk down the street to a party – they do this:

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I was only hoping for a few big musical dance numbers, but this a full fledged musical film with songs and dances throughout from start to finish.  The music is all original by Justin Hurwitz who also provided the score for Whiplash.  Ryan Gosling’s character is a jazz musician who is always composing and working on his music, so it makes sense in the film for moments like this one:

 

This is hands down my favorite film of the year.  It’s about a guy and a gal falling in love and struggling to make their dreams come true.  Maybe it doesn’t have the weight of Manchester by the Sea, or the important issues of a film like Moonlight.  But I cried more than once — for joy and for the beauty of it all.  That final sequence just left me again in tears it was so perfect.  So beautiful.  So bittersweet.  This is not a saccharine sappy film.

Chazelle fought hard to get this cast.  He had to really convince Emma Stone to make the leap and she didn’t make it easy.  Ryan Gosling took piano lessons for months so that he could convincingly play the piano in the film without editing cheats.  Gosling and Stone have shown in films like Crazy, Stupid Love that they have that X factor chemistry between them.  This film was almost cast with Miles Teller and Emma Watson.   Thank God Stone and Gosling became available — Emma Stone is likely to win an Oscar nomination for this film.

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La La Land is romance at its best.  Damien Chazelle has captured magic in bottle.  I plan to partake again and again.

star_rating_5_of_5

Moonlight – Like Watching Beautiful Poetry Come To Life

I had heard a growing chorus about the greatness of Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight from the festival circuit, and it is now gracing the number one spot on many critics’ Top 10 films of the year.  It’s a three-way Oscar race at this point, with Manchester By The Sea, and La La Land.

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Before I saw the film, I did not understand the movie poster for Moonlight, but it is actually perfection.  The film is split in three parts showing 10 year old “Little”, a young teen and then a young adult Chiron.  The poster shows all three actors split in thirds, and how they together make the whole person that is Chiron.

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This image released by A24 Films shows Alex Hibbert, left, and Mahershala Ali in a scene from the film, “Moonlight.” The film is a poetic coming-of-age tale told across three chapters about a young gay black kid growing up in a poor, drug-ridden neighborhood of Miami. (David Bornfriend/A24 via AP)

The film Moonlight is based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue which was written by Chicago Steppenwolf playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney.  Little/Charon is a young taciturn 10 year old in the first segment.  Chased by bullies who taunt him for being a “faggot”.  He hides out in a crackhouse, and is improbably rescued by the local drug dealer gang leader, Juan (Mahershala Ali in a tour de force).  Mahershala Ali I was mainly familiar with from his excellent work as the lobbyist Remy in House of Cards, but he’s one of those faces who has been in several TV series and movies like Hunger Games Mockingjay.  I’ve never seen him like this.  He was quite simply amazing.  He will be nominated for just about every supporting actor nomination available this awards cycle.

He takes young Little back home to his wife Teresa because Little won’t talk and say where he lives.  After Little spends the night, Juan takes him under his wing, and you fear what he might be grooming Little for.  But there is just this luminous scene where he teaches Little to Swim on a Miami beach.  Juan is the one who tells him about black boys looking blue in the Moonlight.  Little lives alone with his single mother nurse, and you can see in his big eyes how he craves a father figure.  He even asks Juan and Teresa, “What does ‘faggot’ mean?” and your heart stops.  Juan and Teresa explain, but also are accepting and tender.  Every character in this film has layers and complexities — the local drug lord, is the caring father figure, full of acceptance.

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The second segment shows lanky Chiron (Ashton Sanders) still being bullied at school.  He has one consistent friend, Kevin, who was his best pal in the first segment, too.  There is an incredible tender scene between Kevin and Chiron alone on  the beach one night.  But then afterwards, he is betrayed.  This moment in the still above is when Chiron looks at his beaten face in the mirror, and you can just see him girding himself, and saying, “No. More.”  He explodes, and it had my heart in my throat just like the ending of FandryFandry.  You’ve seen this poor kid, now with a crack addicted neglectful mother, just endure and endure and he just can’t any more.  Many movies would end there.

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But the final segment shows what Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) has become as an adult.  He’s now a drug dealer with gold teeth and macho attitude.  The way he dresses, and his car all show how he’s trying to live up to what Juan was.  He gets a call from Kevin (André Holland) out of the blue, and that sends him driving hours through the night back to Miami to see Kevin again.  The film ends so tenderly and with such a sense of hope.  My heart was just so full.

This is an incredible film.  Groundbreaking in its structure.  It examines the life of a young gay black man, and examines the toxicity of the roles of masculinity.  It’s complex, and it’s also just so luminously filmed.  It is a gorgeous film to watch.

2016 may suck in general, but we’ve been given such a gift this year with great films.  Don’t miss Moonlight.  It’s still playing in theaters.

star_rating_5_of_5

 

Befikre – Aditya Chopra gives us a scrumptious light Paris pastry of a romantic film

When you have made the romance Hindi movie that is held up as the gold standard, and is STILL playing in a theater 21 years after it’s release, that’s a lot of pressure.  Aditya Chopra is an excellent producer, but has gone years between directorial projects.  Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is the film that started me on my love of Indian Cinema, and I watched Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi second — and I was a goner.  It’s hard not to have super high expectations of an Aditya Chopra film.  All three previous films that Chopra has personally directed had superstar Shahrukh Khan as the lead, an actor that he was instrumental in making a superstar with DDLJ.  It was so monumental an announcement that Aditya was casting a new (for him) actor, that Ranveer Singh made a video announcing it and described how he cried walking out of Aditya’s office when he heard the news.

The first teaser trailer of Befikre is in fact the opening credits of the film, showing couples of all shapes, sizes, colors and orientation kissing all over Paris.  Is this Aditya’s shot across the bow to the censor board?  I certainly know I’ve never seen another Hindi film with so much kissing in it, much less gay kisses.

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Our first glimpse of Dharam (Ranveer Singh) and Shrya (Vaani Kapoor) is when a TV is thrown out a window.  It’s the breakup to start, and that is Aditya’s way of telling us this isn’t going to be like every boy and girl meet cute film.  It has a Western and an Indian flavor to it.  He pays homage to DDLJ in a few ways, with a song, and a field of yellow (could be mustard) flowers in the distance in a country scene.  I also see touches of some of my favorite romantic Hollywood films.  There’s a little When Harry Met Sally.  The flashbacks forward and backward over and over was very much like 500 Days Of Summer.  Aditya has taken elements from lots of Hollywood romances, but he makes this film his own, as he is the master.

ranveer-singh-befikre-vaani-kapoor-from-still_a422a78a-abaa-11e6-b4b4-3ed39deda4e7Dharam is new to Paris, and he’s a stand up comic flown in from Dehli to headline a friend’s club.  Have we ever had a stand up comic as an Indian romantic hero before?  That also felt very modern to me.  Shyra meets him at a bar, and their dynamic from the beginning starts with a dare.  “If you do X, then I’ll go out with you.”  ‘Desperate Dharam’ as Shyra calls him, is up for any dare, if it means he can spend more time with this fascinating wild creature.  When he takes her dares, Shyra gets that little spark in her eye – here’s someone who gets me and will go on my kind of adventures.  But she warns him from the first that she won’t be tied down and she doesn’t want him to fall in love with her.  We’ve seen all that from the trailer.  We’ve seen live in relationships in Hindi films, too, but this relationship definitely feels more modern, and Aditya’s gorgeous setting of Paris helps with that.

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Shyra has grown up in Paris with parents from India and she views herself as French, but cooks Paratha when she needs comfort food.  Her parents are stunned when she announces, “I’m not asking for your permission.” that she will be moving in with Dharam.  He tries to make nice with them, by touching their feet.  “Why did you do that?” she asks.  “I just wanted them to know you weren’t moving in with a jerk.”  The mom I recognized as one of the aunties from Dil Dhadakne Do.

Ranveer has his manic energy, and shows more skin than our herione.  Not only is there the red underwear scene from the trailer, but he shows off his bare butt, too.  I really, really liked Vaani Kapoor.  I didn’t remember her really from her first film, Shuddh Desi Romance — I think she was the jilted bride.  She is tough and quirky and independent and Shyra. The dancing they do together is fantastic.  I don’t know that they had that timeless chemistry or heat that Kajol and SRK did, but then again, that was an extraordinary jodi.

In one of my favorite dialogues, Dharam apologizes for calling Shyra a slut in their breakup argument, “It was me who wasn’t experienced.  I’m sorry for saying that.” What happens after Dharam and Shyra breakup becomes interesting, as they are best friends after some time blows over.  This is where many Hollywood romances would start, as they have to cram the whole story into 90 minutes.  She starts dating someone else, but he is not an a**hole, or a jerk.  In fact, he’s almost too perfect, and too grown up.

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This is the part of the movie that felt very much like the new guy was Patrick Dempsey in Sweet Home Alabama.  He is a real choice, but maybe not the right choice.   And maybe not the choice for Shyra that feels like “home”.  He’s not a horrible stereotype like Simran’s fiance in DDLJ.

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The third wheel actor was new to me,  Armaan Ralhan, grandson of a director, so in the filmi family.  He was nice and not just a boring drip of a banker, plus he was more than accepting of her best friendship with Dharam.  He was great.

Things all come to a head in a rather slapstick, almost farcical silly Four Weddings and a Funeral climax way.  It’s not the emotional angst and drama of the climax of DDLJ.

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But you know what?  Sometimes, a French macarons is just what you want.  Lighter than air, oh so sweet, but sophisticated, too, and out of the ordinary.

Also — There’s a cute epilogue scene after the final credits song so stick around for that.

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Still LOVE this song the best.  So catchy!

 

David Ehrlich’s Top 25 Films of 2016

David Ehrlich (@davidehrlich) is the Rolling Stone Movie Critic. We met him briefly this last Sundance in line for a movie, but I didn’t realize he was the onscreen_shot_2012-05-26_at_12-12-33_am_400x400e who makes these videos every year that I adore. I just love the music choices and his editing.

But as to his top 25 list, I haven’t been to all the festivals that he has, or seen even half these films. I have a feeling La La Land which comes out Friday will be my number one of the year, and right now it’s the front runner for the Oscar. It has been getting ecstatic reviews from just about everyone who’s seen it — a musical with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling by the same director who did Whiplash. Ehrlich had La La Land in his top 10, but it was number 8 for him.
 
Manchester by the Sea would be my number two film (if La La Land is 1) and he has that all the way down at 18. Moonlight is his number one, and it is for many critics. It’s probably my number 3 film of the entire year. It’s absolutely incredible (review coming soon).
 
I have not seen Scorsese’s Silence or Jackie which will come out later this month. I would also put The Lobster in my top 10 of the year, possibly my top five. I loved every absurd moment of that film.
Here’s his 2015 video: