Academy invites several Indian actors

The Academy of Motion Pictures (the Oscars) invited a record shattering 774 members today, in their continuing efforts to expand the membership to more people of color and women.  I was surprised to see several Bollywood actors on the list, but not Shahrukh!  Was Shahrukh invited before??

Amitabh, Aish, Aamir, Salman!  Irrfan Khan, Deepika Pudakone, andPriyanka Chopra too.  Holy crap!

 

The full list of actors below.  To see the complete list, go here.

Actors
Riz Ahmed – “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Nightcrawler”
Debbie Allen – “Fame,” “Ragtime”
Elena Anaya – “Wonder Woman,” “The Skin I Live In”
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan – “Jodhaa Akbar,” “Devdas”
Amitabh Bachchan – “The Great Gatsby,” “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…”
Monica Bellucci – “Spectre,” “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”
Gil Birmingham – “Hell or High Water,” “Twilight” series
Nazanin Boniadi – “Ben-Hur,” “Iron Man”
Daniel Brühl – “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” “Inglourious Basterds”
Maggie Cheung – “Hero,” “In the Mood for Love”
John Cho – “Star Trek” series, “Harold & Kumar” series
Priyanka Chopra – “Baywatch,” “Barfi!”
Matt Craven – “X-Men: First Class,” “A Few Good Men”
Terry Crews – “The Expendables” series, “Draft Day”
Warwick Davis – “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Harry Potter” series
Colman Domingo – “The Birth of a Nation,” “Selma”
Adam Driver – “Silence,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
Joel Edgerton – “It Comes at Night,” “Loving”
Chris Evans – “Captain America” series, “Snowpiercer”
Luke Evans – “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Girl on the Train”
Fan Bingbing – “I Am Not Madame Bovary,” “Cell Phone”
Elle Fanning – “The Beguiled,” “20th Century Women”
Golshifteh Farahani – “Paterson,” “AboutElly”
Anna Faris – “Scary Movie” series, “Brokeback Mountain”
Tom Felton – “A United Kingdom,” “Harry Potter” series
Rebecca Ferguson – “The Girl on the Train,” “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”
Lou Ferrigno – “The Incredible Hulk,” “Hercules”
Gal Gadot – “Wonder Woman,” “Fast & Furious” series
Charlotte Gainsbourg – “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,” “Melancholia”
Jeff Garlin – “Safety Not Guaranteed,” “WALL-E”
Spencer Garrett – “Public Enemies,” “Thank You for Smoking”
Domhnall Gleeson – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Ex Machina”
Sharon Gless – “The Star Chamber,” “Airport 1975”
Donald Glover – “The Martian,” “Magic Mike XXL”
Judy Greer – “Jurassic World,” “13 Going on 30”
Rupert Grint – “Moonwalkers,” “Harry Potter” series
Noel Gugliemi – “Lowriders,” “The Fast and the Furious”
Jon Hamm – “Baby Driver,” “The Town”
Armie Hammer – “The Birth of a Nation,” “The Social Network”
Naomie Harris – “Moonlight,” “Skyfall”
Leila Hatami – “A Separation,” “Leila”
Anne Heche – “Rampart,” “DonnieBrasco”
Lucas Hedges – “Manchester by the Sea,” “Moonrise Kingdom”
Chris Hemsworth – “Thor” series, “Rush”
Ciarán Hinds – “Silence,” “Munich”
Aldis Hodge – “Hidden Figures,” “Straight Outta Compton”
Bryce Dallas Howard – “Jurassic World,” “The Help”
Bonnie Hunt – “The Green Mile,” “Jerry Maguire”
Jiang Wen – “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Let the Bullets Fly”
Dwayne Johnson – “Moana,” “Central Intelligence”
Leslie Jones – “Ghostbusters,” “Masterminds”
Keegan-Michael Key – “Don’t Think Twice,” “Keanu”
Aamir Khan – “3 Idiots,” “Lagaan”
Irrfan Khan – “Life of Pi,” “Slumdog Millionaire”
Salman Khan – “Sultan,” “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”
Rinko Kikuchi – “Pacific Rim,” “Babel”
Zoë Kravitz – “Divergent” series, “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Sanaa Lathan – “Out of Time,” “Love and Basketball”
Carina Lau – “Infernal Affairs 2,” “Days of Being Wild”
Tony Leung – “The Grandmaster,” “Lust, Caution”
Rami Malek – “Short Term 12,” “The Master”
Leslie Mann – “Funny People,” “Knocked Up”
Kate McKinnon – “Ghostbusters,” “Office Christmas Party”
Sienna Miller – “The Lost City of Z,” “American Sniper”
Janelle Monáe – “Hidden Figures,” “Moonlight”
Michelle Monaghan – “Patriots Day,” “Gone Baby Gone”
Viggo Mortensen – “Captain Fantastic,” “The Lord of the Rings” series
Ruth Negga – “Loving,” “Warcraft”
Franco Nero – “The Lost City of Z,” “Django”
Elizabeth Olsen – “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
Deepika Padukone – “xXx: Return of Xander Cage,” “Piku”
Sarah Paulson – “Blue Jay,” “12 Years a Slave”
Robert Picardo – “Hail, Caesar!,” “TheMeddler”
Amy Poehler – “Inside Out,”“Sisters”
Chris Pratt – “Guardians of the Galaxy” series, “Jurassic World”
Zachary Quinto – “Star Trek” series, “Snowden”
Édgar Ramírez – “The Girl on the Train,” “Joy”
Phylicia Rashad – “Creed,” “For Colored Girls”
Margot Robbie – “Suicide Squad,” “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Maya Rudolph – “Maggie’s Plan,” “Bridesmaids”
Hiroyuki Sanada – “Life,” “The Twilight Samurai”
Henry G. Sanders – “Selma,” “Whiplash”
Rodrigo Santoro – “300,” “Love Actually”
Rade Šerbedžija – “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1,” “The Quiet American”
Nestor Serrano – “The Insider,” “Lethal Weapon 2”
Amanda Seyfried – “Les Misérables,” “Mean Girls”
Molly Shannon – “Other People,” “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”
Anna Deavere Smith – “Rachel Getting Married,” “Philadelphia”
Hailee Steinfeld – “The Edge of Seventeen,” “True Grit”
Kristen Stewart – “Café Society,” “Twilight” series
Omar Sy – “Inferno,” “The Intouchables”
Wanda Sykes – “Snatched,” “Evan Almighty”
Channing Tatum – “Hail, Caesar!,” “Foxcatcher”
Aaron Taylor-Johnson – “Nocturnal Animals,” “Kick-Ass”
Lauren Tom – “The Joy Luck Club,” “Cadillac Man”
Jeanne Tripplehorn – “The Firm,” “Basic Instinct”
Paz Vega – “Kill the Messenger,” “Sex and Lucía”
Dee Wallace – “Grand Piano,” “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial”
Ming-Na Wen – “Mulan,” “The Joy Luck Club”
Betty White – “You Again,” “The Proposal”
Rebel Wilson – “Pitch Perfect” series, “Bridesmaids”
Mary Elizabeth Winstead – “10 Cloverfield Lane,” “Swiss Army Man”
B.D. Wong – “Mulan,” “Jurassic Park”
Shailene Woodley – “The Spectacular Now,” “The Descendants”
Donnie Yen – “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Ip Man”
Casting Directors
PoPing AuYeung – “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny,” “Man of Tai Chi”
Yael Aviv – “A Borrowed Identity,” “Miral”
Constance Demontoy – “Elle,” “Monsieur Lazhar”
Corinna Glaus – “Aloys,” “Night Train to Lisbon”
Lindsay Graham – “The Magnificent Seven,” “Suicide Squad”
Kimberly Hardin – “Hustle & Flow,” “Friday”
Richard Hicks – “Hell or High Water,” “Gravity”
Priscilla John – “Logan,” “Captain America: The First Avenger”
Valorie Massalas – “The Wedding Ringer,” “Gods and Monsters”
Reg Poerscout-Edgerton – “Crooked House,” “Kingsman: The Secret Service”
Johanna Ray – “Snowpiercer,” “Inglourious Basterds”
Jamie Sparer Roberts – “Moana,” “Frozen”
Anna Maria Sambucco – “Youth,” “The Great Beauty”
Harika Uygur – “Mustang,” “Three Monkeys”
Francesco Vedovati – “I Am Love,” “The Last Kiss”

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Spoiler Free Review of the Very Entertaining DJ with Allu Arjun

My first Allu Arjun film on the big screen, and he was great.  DJ is a very entertaining film, both a comedy and action film.  Allu Arjun’s grace as a dancer makes for very acrobatic action scenes that look super cool.

Allu Arjun’s DJ is both a priest/caterer AND a vigilante.  This is a bloodthirsty film, not for young kids, although there were plenty in the audience of my theater.  There are quite a few impalings, but what’s blurred for the censors is a crotch shot of Pooja Hegde coming out of a swimming pool in a one piece bathing suit.  I wasn’t impressed with Pooja Hegde in Mohenjo Daro, but she was quite good in DJ.  She has good chemistry with Allu Arjun, and I loved the way she puts him back on his heels by kissing him on the cheek in public.

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There are a lot of dance numbers in this film, but only one is a real show stopper even approaching the great dance moves in Allu Arjun’s Arya 2.

 

This one, though with the mundu dance, was my favorite of the first half.  It happens right after that momentous cheek kiss.

 

I didn’t like this film quite as much as Arya 2, but it’s very fun and entertaining.  The romance track isn’t the main thrust of the film — the vigilante action is the main story line.

 

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I watched both of Allu Arjun’s films Arya and Arya 2 to get ready for DJ

Several commenters on my reaction to the trailer of Allu Arjun’s new film DJ told me I should watch Arya 2 and Arya.

I’m super excitecd for DJ now after seeing Arya (2004) and Arya 2 (2009) over the last 2 days.  Only Arya 2 is the MUST see movie, but you should watch the
opening dance number of Arya, to get a sense what a great dancer Allu Arjun is.  Arya was his breakout film, and the debut blockbuster for director Sukumar — the guy who directed 1: Nenokkadine!
Like most Indian “sequels”  Arya 1 and Arya 2 are not continuations of the same story thread, but variations on the same theme.
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Arya 1 has Arjun playing Arya, and he’s in a love triangle with Geeta and Ajay and the setting is college.  Ajay is your typical college tough stalker.  He decides Geeta will be his and threatens suicide to make her date him..  Ugh.  Arya loves Geeta but expects nothing in return.  He even helps to get Ajay and Geeta togehter, etc. when her father wants her to marry someone else.  Geeta is played by a former model, and she has only one basic expression the entire film — looking miserable.  She has the charisma of a wet dishrag.  Ajay is your basic evil boyfriend.   Arya (Allu Arjun) carries the entire movie by sheer force of his cheerfulness, charm and excellent dance numbers
Seriously, Allu Arjun is THE best Telugu dancer I have seen yet.  He dedicates Arya 2 to Michael Jackson, and he can MOVE.  This dancing ability leads to great action sequences, because he’s really acrobatic in his kicks and so on.
I thought I had to watch Arya 1 to get Arya 2, but it’s not necessary as Arya 2 is a stand alone film, and not a continuation of the first film’s story.  It’s amusing enough, and was a blockbuster hit at the time, but not nearly as enjoyable as the second film.  The heroine is just so passive you want to scream, and the plot fairly regressive — except for Arya‘s selfless love.
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It just made me appreciate Arya 2 all the more.  To see how Allu Arjun had grown as a dancer and actor and the director!  .  I’m really glad I waited until now to watch Arya 2, because it is just that much more funny to me now!
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Arya 2 is brilliant, because it is a total riff and send up of all the usual Telugu movie tropes.  And it makes fun of them all, while referencing Darr and even has a white dog at a wedding JUST like the one in HAHK!  But what the director does with the dog in the scene just had me in stitches.  The whole movie is very entertaining, if a tad long.
First off, we start with Arya and Ajay as fellow child orphans and there is something off about Arya.  He demands to be Ajay’s friend, and is a psycho possessive kind of friend.  The whole movie is taking that brotherly Dost bond to the far reaches of the extreme.
They fall in love with Geeta at the exact same moment — and she’s played by Kajal who I LOVE, so she’s a spitfire and not a dishrag.  They actually flip a coin for her, again riffing on sexist Telugu tropes over and over again, and mocking them.
There’s the forced wedding, the battling families, and on and on.  And throughout Arya is mostly completely off his rocker, and yet still mostly likeable!  It’s a great performance.  And so great of the director to make the main character with negative shadings — he has his blown up Darr sized picture wall of Geeta in his room and all.
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The whole set up is in a way similar to the first movie — Arya has a struggle between his love of Geeta and this time his possessive love of his friend Ajay.  He wants them to be happy, and works to make it possible for them to be together — while occasionally slapping his own face to remind himself, “Have to give Geeta back to Ajay, Have to give Geeta back to Ajay…)  Also, Ajay is not a cardboard villain type.  You go back and forth in and out of sympathy with his shades of gray third wheel character.  Kajal is sometimes a spoiled brat — and has a penchant for throwing down cell phones and breaking them, which I found to be a very funny running gag.
Don’t expect an emotional rollercoaster with crying and pathos.  Expect to laugh and laugh — and be delighted by the clever action scenes, and the allusions to so many other films.
That comedy uncle guy, Brahmanandam is in it as the HR manager of Ajay’s tech firm where they all work, and he has a toned down performance — and was really good!  I actually liked him in this one!
This Arya 2 number is just jaw dropping AMAZEBALLS!!   Allu Arjun’s dancing is off the chain!
I’d still say that Prabhas is my number one in Telugu films, and Mahesh second.  Alllu Arjun has the best dance skills by far, and real comedic chops, though.

I Really Liked the Romance in Sushant Rajput Singh’s Raabta

I didn’t LOVE Raabta as much as Margaret of Don’t Call It Bollywood did, but it was a welcome couple hours of escape for me this weekend.  We have a family member that has just been put into hospice, and this movie took me away to beautiful Budapest for a bit.  Several shirtless scenes of Sushant also helped very much, the first in the very first minute of the film.

As Margaret said, it’s Magadheera, but totally different.  If you want an action film, go see Magadheera.  But Raabta is a timepass romance with some angst.

 

New Trailers for Allu Arjun, Dhanush and Rana!

For Bollyfools, I watched a few of the new Regional trailers, which unfortunately have no subtitles!  Super frustrating.

 

I have only seen Allu Arjun in Rudhramadevi and he was amazing in that, even though he was not the lead.  I watched both the Rom Com feeling teaser, and then the full trailer, neither of which have subs.  Anyone that speaks Telugu, help me out as to what’s going on.  Is it a double role?  The action looks cool, and even though I’m not a Pooja Hegde  (ugh, Mohenjo Daro) fan, the rom com aspect looks adorable.

 

Dhanush has VIP 2 which will also have KAJOL!!  So excited to see her in a new film.  I don’t speak Tamil, and I’ve not seen VIP 1, so I have no idea what’s going on in this trailer.  That ending flying kick looks super cool.   Any translation help would be most appreciated!

 

Kartik from Bollyfools translated Rana’s new teaser for me.  The title means I am the King and I am the Minister.  Rana will be opposite Kajal for the first time, and I’m really excited to see that.  When he’s on the scaffolding with the noose, Rana says, “I will decide when I die, and I will decide when you die!”  I love that shot with him as the prisoner about a foot taller than all the guards behind him.

Wonder Woman – So Inspiring to Young Girls and the Lift We All Needed

I can’t review Wonder Woman like any old film.  It shouldn’t be so momentous that a woman director has directed for the first time a superhero film, that cracked $100 million opening weekend.  But it is.  Patty Jenkins had directed an Oscar winning independent film, Monster, that cost $8 million, had garnered the Directors Guild Award for the TV Series The Killing — and yet…. the headlines said it was a “gamble” to let her helm a superhero film.  It is maddening.  When young male directors are given huge action or superhero films after smaller indie films, it’s not called a gamble.  The Mary Sue called out this double standard misogyny.

I can’t separate my review of the film from what it has felt like to read about other women’s reaction seeing the film.  It’s everything to see a woman centered superhero film, directed by a woman.  And then there are the pictures of the little girls who dressed up to see the film, or got to meet their heroine.  Gah!

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I was a young girl when the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman TV show aired in the US.  I watched it every week!

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It is everything for these girls now to have both a female lead for Star Wars and now Wonder Woman.

So, how was the film?  It was good.  Very good.  I don’t know if I can call it great merely as a film — but at this point, it’s not merely a film, it’s a cultural phenomenon.  I can’t separate all my feelings out.  I will tell you that Gal Godot was excellent as Wonder Woman.  When she was cast, people said her accent would be horrible — you know what?  I thought it was perfect.  It made her seem that much more “other” — that she had been raised on this isolated island away from the world.

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Chris Pine was fantastic.  It was huge that someone who had headed up his own franchise, Star Trek, was willing to play the sidekick to a female Superhero.  This is what Chris Pine said back in 2015 when he was cast as Steve Trevor:

“What excites me most is to work in a movie with a superhero woman. With a woman in the lead role. I am teamed with this intelligent, beautiful and strong woman to defeat the villains and save humanity.”

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He had a nice comedic touch in early scenes with Gal Godot, and there was great chemistry between them, too, especially in a nice scene where he teaches her to dance.  Let me just tell you also, another nice thing about a woman director — we learn just how much male nudity you can have in a PG-13 film!  He’s not a damsel in distress, but he’s always the one to say, “No, Diana, you can’t do that.”  And then he turns around and she’s already done it.  Like the incredible No Man’s Land scene.

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I really enjoyed the early part of the film, where we see little girl Diana watching her aunt, General Antiope train the Amazon warriors.  And how cool is it that Robin Wright, Princess Buttercup herself is this badass warrior! Connie Nielsen was also perfectly cast as Diana’s mother.

I really enjoyed the film right up till near the end.  It was a solid film.  The battle on the Amazon Isle was great.  But nothing was so visually stunning that it took my breath away.

Where the film was a bit lacking for me was the villain reveal and the way the film ended.  I won’t go into spoilers exactly why.  My main issues, though were with the villain’s motivation.  As my son said, “The themes got a bit muddy there at the end.”  Still, this was a film that was about something and not just watching superheroes crash into buildings.  Diana believes in the inherent goodness of humanity, and then learns the world is more complex than she thought.  Someone’s sacrifice restores her faith in humanity.

There is actually Oscar talk about Wonder Woman.  This is big.  And I’m not just talking about technical VFX awards.  Anne Thompson of Indie Wire wrote today that she could see a supporting nod for Chris Pine and a best actress nod for Gal Godot.  Wouldn’t that be something to see?

I have been going back and forth on my rating between four and four and a half stars.  It’s not a perfect film, but it felt so damn good.  Gal Godot is the perfect Wonder Woman  — And for those little girls!

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Mahesh Babu Spyder Teaser Trailer Reaction

I’ve never really reacted to a teaser trailer before, but I am super excited about this one for Mahesh Babu’s Spyder, due out in September.  I went on a binge of Mahesh Babu films last year, and unfortunately, the first film of his I saw in the theater was Brahmotsavam, which was a confusing mess.  Spyder is directed by the Murugadoss who gave us Aamir Khan’s Ghajini, which is a masterpiece.  Crossing my fingers that he gives Mahesh as great a movie.  September seems very far away!!