December 27, 2009

Intermission: Mameshiba

Think a few of the last otaku crazes were odd enough? (Think 7–Eleven's mismarketing of poor little Domo, for instance.) Wait 'til you meet these "bean dogs," or Mameshiba:



Visit J–List if you're ready to adopt them as die–cut index tabs. Just don't say we didn't warn you if they start spouting trivia that would make one Alex Trebek blush.

December 19, 2009

Just One Story… Episode 1: Diane Wolkstein

It is done.

After numerous weeks of frustration (between warehouse and supermarket shifts and the holidays in general), your Projectionist is proud to present the first episode of his new series, Just One Story…

It has one simple aim: One storyteller. Telling one story. That simple.

Behold the pilot first episode, featuring the celebrated Diane Wolkstein telling a Taoist story that begins with the mere running off of a farmer's horse:


©2009 Promenade Digital [Mediaworks].
Creative Commons License
This work is released under a Creative Commons Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Enjoy and share as per the terms of the license. Happy holidays, everyone!

[UPDATE 2009.12.25 (Christmas Day): It's no longer the "pilot," but the official first episode. The response has been so overwhelmingly positive that we will definitely do more episodes in the series in 2010 and beyond! Please write me if you're serious about getting involved. And be sure to visit my new home on the web to download the first episode as an AVI.]

House Lights: Be it resolved

Yes, I know, but it deserves a response: What sorts of New Year's resolutions are you making?

Your Projectionist is summoning up the courage to make one in particular — pulling the cord on DVDs and CDs (and saying a firm and final "no" to Blu–ray) for the most obvious of reasons: they are needless in an age of files, streaming videos and torrents.

But wait! Scott Thill of AlterNet has more:

From the plastic, and therefore oil, it takes to make their cases to the reams of paper, and therefore trees and water, it takes to make their press and product packaging, CDs and DVDs are the easiest fat to axe. Which is why in the last decade CD sales have dropped precipitously, as online sales have caught up. Might as well seal the deal by never buying another disc again…


It's part of Mr. Thill's longer piece on dealing with a system that screws people without mercy. Please read it if you haven't done so already.

Getting Bollywood (one of your Projectionist's confessed addictions) to finally acknowledge this will be hard. To their credit, SCI's T–Series and RPG's Saregama have brought some of their recent soundtrack and albums to Amazon.com and Apple's iTunes store and allowed them to become paid downloads. It's time for the films themselves to follow suit. (Preferably without the running time being shaved.)

Of course, they could go even further and abandon celluloid altogether (it's another petroleum by–product, by the way) in favor of going 100% digital and embracing the torrent. It worked for the Finnish company Energia, which built up its digital movie making skills and made them pay off with Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning. (And why not embrace Creative Commons as well? It's working a miracle for Nina Paley.)

Not doing so would break a lot of hearts all over the world, so why not make the resolution?

Besides, if he is given the chance (and even a small network for support), your Projectionist could make a nice marsala movie this way, and show you that it can be done.

How about one big responsible action that scores one for Mother Earth?

November 23, 2009

Coming Distractions: Tea Party

All your Projectionist can say is "Oy. VEY."

Behold the teaser for Tea Party, which streets on NTSC (Region 1?) DVD this very week:


©2009 Ground Floor, L.L.C.

Uh, guys… you missed Hallowe'en by a few weeks.

November 22, 2009

Casting Call: Looking for a MP4 player

No, you read that right.

As part of a recent artistic awakening that I will reveal in January 2010, your Projectionist and would–be Moviemaker is researching MP4 media players.

No, the search will not include any members of the Apple iPod® family, although it won't surprise me if an iPod® does eventually come my way. After all, Apple rules big time in the personal media player realm… except when it comes to open source file formats. As in XviD, FLAC, and Ogg Vorbis. Yes, I do take patent–free audio and video seriously. And so should Apple (what would it take to wake them up?).

In the meantime, the Projectionist will be reviewing a small handful of MP4 players sold by MP4 Nation (which has its own house brand, Nationite), House of DAP, and even Chinavasion. No stone will be left unturned in this quest.

Just to see if anyone wants to weigh in on this virtual shopping excursion, here are some demo/review videos of the players that are being considered (or not). Don't hesitate to leave your thoughts in the Comments.

First up: the Nationite S:Flo2 (also sold as the Teclast T51):



and the Nationite ONE Series OS–81:



Here's a short piece on the Teclast C410HD player, which offers H264 support:



Here's a two–parter on a SmartQ Q5 MID unit that's running on Linux (an adapted version of Ubuntu in this case) and offers WiFi as well:





Finally, out of fairness to Chinavasion, a short piece featuring an unbranded MP4/MP3 player which only lacks H264 support:



That's enough for the moment. So, which looks best to you?

November 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Diane Wolkstein!

Yes, the celebrated storyteller and author is now 67.

Since he couldn't get the surviving Beatles® to come out of retirement and play "Birthday" (from what has been commonly called the White Album), your Projectionist has gathered these choice streamers to celebrate a truly wonderful soul, for whose presence he and so many others are grateful.

The PodBean widget contains the last few podcasts created from Diane's old WNYC radio series, Stories from Many Lands. They are included because most of the videos only contain excerpts from Diane's storytelling repertoire.

Enjoy it all.



















Courtesy Festival Interculturel du Conte du Québec.


Courtesy Festival Interculturel du Conte du Québec.


Courtesy of Suyeon Kim and Interactive Journalism I.





Unless otherwise noted, all material ©Diane Wolkstein/Cloudstone Productions.

November 1, 2009

Nina Paley: How did she do that?

Nina Paley's Sita Sings the Blues is really getting around a lot these days (even on YouTube, using the Motorola Droid to be sold soon via Verizon), and it's also making her some serious money — something that might not have happened with a typical Hollywood–brokered deal. She explains it all to you and a Power to the Pixel audience in London (courtesy of Babelgum):



You can also read more over at QuestionCopyright.org and at TechDirt.

October 27, 2009

The promised Sita talk: Slight delay

Dear Friends:

A week ago, I promised to put up here the question and answer period that followed the 20th October screening of Nina Paley's Sita Sings the Blues.

It has now been a full week, and I apologize for the delay, which you may blame on my aging Mac Mini and all the issues it has with doing a proper transcoding to a format YouTube will recognize.

In the interim, I will soon be posting an audio–only version of the talk, as soon as I can figure out how to do it within Blogger. I thank you all for your immense patience.

I may yet get the video up, if one of my penguins (read: Linux machines) is up to it. Please bear with me.

October 20, 2009

Sita took Stony Brook!

And it came to pass.

Nina Paley came this evening to SUNY Stony Brook's Wang Center with her animated marvel Sita Sings the Blues.


Original artwork ©2008 Nina Paley Productions, L.L.C.

The Projectionist came, and videotaped the Q & A session (some forty–five minutes worth).

Many students and members of the SUNY Stony Brook University community came. They included students who were either "forced" to watch Mme. Paley's masterful interwoven retelling of the Luv Kush story — or who declared that they came freely to see it.

One of the scheduled guests, Sanjeev Javeri, couldn't make the screening, but Aseem Chabra (who is one of the narrators in the soundtrack, and the one who urges us not to challenge these stories…) more than made up for the absence of his colleague.

And a splendid time was indeed had by all.


Left to right: Nina Paley, Aseem Chabra, your Projectionist, and SUNY Stony Brook–Wang Center's Sunita Mukhi.

Blessings to all — especially Mme. Paley and Mme. Mukhi — who made it all happen. Special thanks to both ladies for allowing the Projectionist to record the talk on video.

It will take a while to get it up, let alone polished, but you won't have too long to wait.

Oh, and if you still haven't downloaded this one, what are YOU waiting for?

[UPDATE 2009.10.21: Everything has been imported into Apple's iMovie®, and the editing should begin soon.]

October 16, 2009

Now playing: Nos enfants nous accuseront

With so much attention being given to non–fiction movies about life in (and with) the (altered? mutated?) foodchain, your Projectionist has just learned of First Run Features' North American release of the French documentary Nos enfants nous accuseront ("our children will accuse us") by Jean–Paul Jaud.

It's currently playing a limited engagement in New York City's Quad Cinema, but you can now pre–order the NTSC DVD (in French with English subtitles) from FRF's website (USA only); it'll street on October 26th. Here in the States, it's been re–christened with the clumsy title Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution.

Until you get your hands on this report from the French village of Barjac (where the local school went organic in a big way, and with good reason), here's a bit of a rarity: the original French video trailer with the film ID'd by its superior original title:




Even with this generously long {ahem} taste, it's too soon to say how much the Projectionist can recommend this one. But when he sees more ordinary people in a non–fic feature than the "talking heads" of experts, it's a good sign.

Coming Attractions: Work in Progress

Not a movie, but a live performance this time.

Here's a "behind the scenes" look with none less than acclaimed storyteller and author Diane Wolkstein and celebrated Indian classical dancer Anita Ratnam preparing for their upcoming Work in Progress, a new take on the Monkey King Epic (a/k/a Journey to the West):


Video recorded by Bob Geile.
©2009 Diane Wolkstein / Anita Ratnam / Sat Hon / Cloudstone Productions.


See you on the two nights before Hallowe'en.

October 15, 2009

Music Time: Stephanie Yanez

Just because the Northeastern United States are set to get soaked by a projected three more days of rain, we offer a little bit of Japanese–singing sunshine courtesy of Stephanie Yanez. Here's "Don't Say Lazy" from the anime K–On!


2009 Stephanie Yanez.

October 11, 2009

House Lights: Building the roadshow

Does your house of worship sometimes put on a movie night — when they select a film appropriate for the congregation and arrange for everything from a big–enough screen to the snacks (not limited to popcorn)?

Your Projectionist's Unitarian Universalist congregation has its share of movie nights, but they usually come with a condition: They are usually arranged through and presented by one committee or another (such as Interweave, a LGBT concern, or the Racial Concerns Committee) and fit the concerns of that committee.

It would be one thing if your Projectionist could actually "fit" into one of those committees. But he doesn't. He views films as films and not as things to be neatly sorted here and there.

Meanwhile, his dreams for making simple, shoestring–budgeted feature video movies are languishing, because committee–presented movie nights are all he ever hears about at his congregation.

He wants better. And the congregation deserves better.

To that end, he is working on a parallel movie night roadshow, which would showcase movies his fellow congregants rarely (if ever) sees: movies from the underground scene (Damon Packard, Craig Baldwin e.g.), unusual documentaries, features from the open source movie movement (Sita Sings the Blues, Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning e.g.), and even something from the Nigerian video movie scene (which hems closes to what Damon Packard does and what the Projectionist wants to do).

There would be a post–credit discussion after the show, but it wouldn't be just about the topic of the movie, but also about how the movie was made — something that might convince congregants that they can join the Projectionist in making original movies instead of going to Blockbuster or the Redbox kiosk (or dashing off yet another Netflix rental order).

Any thoughts? The comments box awaits.

October 3, 2009

Intermission: Climate justice can't wait

The kind people of Tck Tck Tck and their allies have updated the Midnight Oil song "Beds Are Burning" for the urgent matter of climate change, with a major gathering of nation–states in Copenhagen this very December 7th.

Pass it on, everyone:


©2009 Tck Tck Tck et.al.

And here's where you can learn how to do your part.

October 1, 2009

Rape is rape, and it is wrong.

Your Projectionist has had absolutely nothing to say about the recent arrest of Polish–born movie maker Roman Polanski (in Switzerland, while attending the Zürich Film Festival) — or the utterly indefensible petition on his behalf, signed by (among others) Woody Allen (ha!), Wes Anderson, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Darren Aronofsky, Bernardo Bertolucci (why?), Guillermo del Toro, Terry Gilliam, Diane Kurys (remember her films?), Claude Lelouch, David Lynch, Jeanne Moreau (pour quoi??), Pierre Schumacher, Martin Scorsese, Tilda Swinton (?!), Bertrand Tavernier… we won't go on.

But it is very sickening.

So much so that your Projectionist is launching a personal economic boycott of each of the above–named parties.

That means no more money for DVDs or other home video products that bear their names.

Your Projectionist is also officially boycotting the Criterion Collection's recent DVD release of Polanski's second feature Repulsion. All of Polanksi's other movies on home video, irrespective of the labels on which they are released, are also included in the boycott. That includes his new film The Ghost and all future projects as well.

Put simply, there is no excuse whatsoever for defending the indefensible. And that sentiment seems to be elsewhere online, as witness items from the Los Angeles Times, Women & Hollywood, the Women's Media Center, and Jezebel. Not to mention conservative portals such as Townhall, Pajamas Media, the Media Research Center (I expect nothing less from one L. Brent Bozell), and even the blatant anti–immigration VDARE.

Deep down, despite our political differences, we seem to agree on one thing, as I posted on Facebook tonight:

Rape is indefensible. Regardless of what else the rapist has done.

End. Of. Story.

[UPDATE 2009.10.15: I amended the boycott to only target Polanski movies as well as whichever productions featuring the signees of the petition I come across. Not every Criterion release is evil.]

September 25, 2009

Taare Zameen Par — a new date and a new title

It is official: Taare Zameen Par — Aamir Khan's directorial debut about a eight–year–old boy with learning disabilities and a vivid imagination — will street on Walt Disney Home Entertainment (Region 1 NTSC for the States and Canada) on October 13th on January 12th, 2010 (according to Amazon.com).

As expected, it has gotten a new English title: Like Stars on Earth. (Whether that decision sits well with Bollywood fans here in the States will be an open question.) The packaging, adapted from the original T–Series release, does show the original title in smaller type — and small–cap letters.

Also as suspected, there will be an English dub along with the original Hindi soundtrack.

What wasn't expected, however, is how much of the T–Series three–disc package will be included in Disney's Region 1 release, also to contain three discs: Mr. Khan's running commentary, the panel discussion about children with special needs, deleted scenes (with commentary explaining their deletion), a music CD (of the score, as with the T–Series box, a reprint of their song CD widely available, or&hellip?), and two postcards. (No flip–book, as in the original T–Series box?)

I will wait for this one to arrive on October 13th; Amazon.com is already taking pre–orders.

But the T–Series box stays in my collection. Just because. Take it in the proper spirit.

[UPDATE 2009.11.18: Just now got the new release date, which has been pushed back past Christmas as noted above. Guess the House of Mouse has too much on its plate right now.]

September 13, 2009

Auto–Tuned geese to go

Your Projectionist really needs to follow the Auto–Tune the News posse more closely, lest he miss out on their latest antics:



So, when do we get to buy some roasted geese for dinner from our local King Kullen?

September 6, 2009

Coming Attractions: South of the Border

Back in 2007, Oliver Stone was invited to meet Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, during an failed attempt to liberate Colombian hostages being held by FARC.

In 2009, he went back to interview the Venezuelan President on a deeper level. That led to interviews with other Latin American leaders — and the result is a new feature documentary, South of the Border, which has yet to get a distributor.

No doubt the Projectionist's home country's spin machine will be working full tilt against this one, which plays tomorrow at the Venice Film Festival in Italy. But you can get a taste of Mr. Stone's new movie on the Guardian website.

Sorry for not being able to embed it here, and apologies in advance for the advertisement that will play first.

September 5, 2009

Coming Attractions: American Casino

It had to happen: A documentary about the foreclosure crisis in the United States, and how bankers and investors made it happen (and made it as scary as it could get). Prepare yourself for Leslie and Andrew Cockburn's American Casino:


©2009 Leslie & Andrew Cockburn / Table Rock Films.

Get on their site and sign up for notification on when their DVD (all region, we hope?) comes out. And someone please get PBS to show this one in full.

September 4, 2009

Calling All Angels: The new Damon Packard Project

Damon Packard has a new movie in the works, tentatively listed on Fundable as the The Untitled BBC Documentary.

But this one isn't exactly about Auntie Beeb per se. Go to the Fundable page and carefully look at the description.

I am certain that the director of Tales of the Valley of the Wind and other delectable mashups will appreciate all donations towards the cause.

August 23, 2009

Coming Attractions: Lemonade

This one's for all the creative souls who used to work in the advertising realm, but anyone else who's lost his or her job might benefit from the trailer below. If that's you, then your wake–up call is in production and is called Lemonade.


© 2009 Please Feed the Animals.

It is said that today is the first day of the rest of your life, right?

August 21, 2009

Coming Attractions: Quick Gun Murugun

Your Projectionist isn't blaming this on Om Shanti Om director Farah Khan. No, he's taking this one to Shashank Ghosh, whose Quick Gun Murugun is on its way from Fox Star Studios.

Think this cowboy's got a chance at the worldwide Bollywood box office? Watch this herd of sneak peeks and decide:











All of the above courtesy Fox Star Studios/20th Century Fox Film Corporation.

Hope you haven't O.D.'ed on any of this yet. We're not talking the rebirth of El Topo here.

P.S.: Visit Passion for Cinema to read some of the director's thoughts. That, and to feast on the T–shirt he is wearing in the accompanying photo.

When will Fox put that shirt on sale? I'd love one.

Coming Attractions: Capitalism: A Love Story

He told you once, now he's telling you twice… Michael Moore's newest film has a title — Capitalism: A Love Story — and a new trailer to go with it:


Courtesy Starz–Overture Films/Paramount Vantage/Dog Eat Dog Films.

Amazing that this trailer appears on the same day I read this, which is all too clear to ignore:

The real war is not between the left and the right. It is between the average American and the ruling class. If we come together on this single issue, everything else will resolve itself. It's time we took back our government from those who would make us their slaves.


Who wrote this? Surprise, surprise…

August 18, 2009

Coming Attractions: Mother India, short–attention span cut

This is either a moment of bravery or needless messing with a piece of Bollywood history: The Guardian reports on a drastically–recut and rescored version of the 1957 Mehboob Khan film Mother India.

Stress the word "drastically."

The Khal Phool website gives the skivvy on the UK tour now in progress through Saturday 24 October. There are no plans right now to go beyond the British Isles with this project — a good thing since your Projectionist would prefer to first get acquainted with the original cut on DVD Video.

For what it's worth, here's a morsel of what the lads and lassies can expect:



And for what it's worth, here's DJ Tigerstyle in action:


©2009 Kala Phool, Ltd.

The Projectionist reserves further judgment for after viewing the 1957 original.

Coming Attractions: Dil Bole Hadippa!

Leave it to Yash Raj Films to offer something truly appealing this Fall.

This September, it's a romantic comedy about a young woman's breaking into the male–dominated sport of… cricket.

Yes, you read that right. Cricket.

Courtesy of Yash Chopra's studio is this four video preview of Dil Bole Hadippa!


©2009 Yash Raj Films (Private) Ltd.

Enjoy, everybody.

P.S.: For those ready to buy the soundtrack CD, YRF also tosses in a free CD with MP3s of songs from their back catalogue. It might seem unnecessary if you already own those albums, but take a look at how the MP3s were done: everything is properly tagged right down to the singers for each selection, and the corresponding album artwork is embedded in each file. It saves mobile music geeks like me the chore of scanning the artwork and manually editing the ID tags in each file. Anyone else in India making MP3 CDs: YRF's sampler shows how it should be done.

August 16, 2009

Is that the Big B in your lamp, Mr. Eros, or are you just glad we watched the teaser?

Your Projectionist is deeply concerned about the future of the people at Eros International (that's "eh–ROHS," folks). You see, they're now streaming the teaser for the forthcoming Aladin (one "d," not two here), being readied by the Boundscript studio.

It doesn't look promising, folks. Even if the Big B himself — the one and only Amitabh Bachchan — is there to pull in the faithful. (God Tussi Great Ho, anyone?) Maybe we'll be proven wrong this Fall, but with the way many recent fantasy flicks (not just the ones made in India, mind you) have stumbled on their way to the box office, I have a queasy feeling about this one.

I can't embed the teaser here, so you'll have to go over to either the Eros or Boundscript website to view it.

But it's depressing to think that Eros has learned nothing from their Drona fiasco. Especially when they greenlighted an Aladin sequel. Last year, to be exact.

Counting one's chickens before they even have a chance to consider the idea of hatching? Or just making a death wish?

Let's check back in October.

Boundscript is charting their progress with a blog, with which they promise "100% Wholesome Indian Films." For the sake of the careers of their staff, let's hope their intuitions are right this time.

Too bad you've been prawned, Joe™

The New York Times delivers the word: This week's Hollywood box office champ is Neill Blomkamp's District 9. Produced by Peter Jackson and his Wingnut Films company and distributed by Sony, it delivered a USD 37 million payday, paying off the film's USD 30 million dollar production cost. It's gravy from here on in.

That dropped the Paramount/Hasbro–made G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra™ to second place (USD 22.5 million for the week, USD 98.8 million cumulative). Ha ha ha. (Unless Viacom and Hasbro probably are drafting yet another waste of money and non–renewable resources sometime down the line. Oy if it's true.)

How did District 9 get on top? Top–level moviemaking is one possibility (reviews have been mainly positive, and I've only seen three unfavorable ones to date). Then there's Mr. Jackson's presence at the recent Comic–Con in San Diego, California — nothing less than an Event for fanboys and fangirls. You can also throw in Sony's marketing campaign (see some of it on the movie's website), which according to the Times, "echoed the paranoia of the movie’s story line. Billboards and bus ads, for instance, encouraged people to call a toll–free number to report nonhuman activity, resulting in thousands of calls."

I hardly ever both to go to Hollywood flicks these days. This one, though, could be the big exception. Only one way to find out.

Do they know who that man is? Do they?

Someone should send the U.S. Customs staff at New Jersey's Newark Liberty Airport original DVDs of Om Shanti Om and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. That way, the next time Bollywood idol Shah Rukh Khan comes through their portal, they won't subject him to another two–hour–plus detention as they reportedly did on Friday, August 14th — before a gig in Atlantic City (and Indian Independence Day activities in Chicago, Illinois the next day).

Not done, guys. Apparently his Muslim surname sent up erroneous red flags at Homeland Security. But let the gentleman explain:

It was absolutely uncalled for I think, me having just finished working there for more than a month… just a couple of weeks ago. They said I have a common name which is causing the delay… checked my bags… I felt angry and humiliated…

I am assuming this country is paranoid with a certain section of religion in the world. This has happened to me before. This is not the first time.


And it required the efforts of Indian Consulate people to get him freed.

BollywoodWorld also notes the immediate shock and anger expressed by the Bollywood creative community, including director Karan Johar, actress Priyanka Chopra (currently seen in the must–see Kaminey), Kabir Khan (the director of New York), and Kunal Kohli, who notes:

Even if they had done a Google search on their mobiles, they would have seen who he is. What were they checking for two hours on their super computers?



Let's hope that Fox Star's forthcoming release of My Name is Khan, directed by Karan Johar (and dealing with how 11 September 2001 affects one Indian Muslim) gets a wide enough release that it inspires some much needed change of heart at DHS.

The Bush regime is (burnt) toast, guys.

P.S.: Yash Raj Films' double–DVD set of New York, however flawed, should also be recommended viewing.

UPDATE 1 on 2009.08.16: The BBC and others have heard U.S. Customs officials defend their actions, claiming that SRK (as he is also known) was only held for an hour and six minutes. Customs spokesman Elmer Camacho claimed that it was only a routine procedure used for all foreigners entering the States. Meanwhile, Timothy Roehmer, who is the U.S. Ambassador to India, said the embassy would look into the matter.

In addition, the story got picked up for an almost quarter–page space in Newsday, while the New York Times and National Public Radio re–ran a version of the story circulated by the Associated Press.

UPDATE 2 on the same date: The New York Times and other media outlets now say that SRK is trying to put what happened behind him, saying that "it's a procedure that needs to be followed."

There's more on the story over at Screen, which suggests that the man is a bit world–weary these days.

No question director Kabir Khan is tired of the whole homeland security charade himself:

When I heard this news, I was so surprised… it has almost become a routine. If you have a Muslim name you are bound to be questioned. It happened with me thrice in the US. I was stopped by immigration officials for three to five hours– they don’t care whether you are a celebrity or whoever.

But when it comes to Shah Rukh, it doesn’t take more than 20 seconds to figure out who he is — any search engine will give more information on him than Hollywood stars Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt, and despite that, if it took them two hours to figure out, then it's harassment.


No wonder he made New York.

The Yash Raj Films DVD set of that film will be in my hands shortly (I pre–ordered it via Amazon). It will have two discs, so I will be very interested by what extra features are on the second disc, or whether there will be a running commentary track for the feature itself. Besides wanting to know why the staff shot most of their film in Pennsylvania (?), I would like to know more about his experiences with our Department of Homeland [In–]Security, and how much they shaped his perspective of what I thought was my home country (I'm no longer so sure). We'll soon know in a few days.

August 13, 2009

It's nothing personal against Mumbai, mind you…

…it's just that UTV's newest movie Kaminey and Studio 18's comedy Life Partner are opening everywhere tomorrow, except in Mumbai, India, where the multiplexes will be shuttered for a while.

Blame this one on… the swine flu. Bollywood Hungama (via Screen) explains:

The swine flu scare has really caught on big time and now after Pune, the state government has also alerted Mumbaikars to stay away from crowded places. In fact, a directive has been issued ordering shutting down of schools, colleges and educational institutions for a week while even recreational centers like malls and multiplexes have been asked to be shut down for next three days.


So now UTV and Studio 18 and the affected theatres in Mumbai, Thane, and Navi Mumbai will have to sit tight until the Indian government gives them the green light to open for business again. That said, both studios will have their movies in the cinemas elsewhere in the world tomorrow. That includes select National Amusements multiplexes in the States, including the one in Farmingdale (Long Island), New York, the one closest to your Projectionist.

He is gunning {ahem} to see Kaminey, but is stoked to also be able to choose between Life Partner and the highly successful Love Aaj Kal — all playing in the same multiplex!

Now movie going just got more interesting.

Meanwhile BollywoodWorld reports that shooting is still going on for new movies, swine flu or no swine flu.

Hmm… let's check back on this one in a few days.

August 12, 2009

Because we're sick of the hooligans

Your Projectionist has felt nauseous in recent days — but only when he hears even a few seconds of Conservative/neo–con hooligans at health care reform town hall gatherings as captured by National Public Radio's microphones. (Or by anyone else's microphones, or cameras for that matter.)

So he has been heartened to learn of a new interfaith coalition declaring a period of "40 Days for Health Care Reform." From Faith in Public Life:

Starting today [10 August], a new national television ad featuring local evangelical, Catholic, and mainline pastors and people of faith — real folks testifying to the urgent need to repair our broken system — will begin airing on cable [TV]…


Here's the advert. Embed and share it however you can:



We've now got less than forty days left. Let's get moving, people.

August 9, 2009

Any more town hall disruptions by Republican/neo–Con plants…

…and your Projectionist will take this duo's advice:


©2009(SOCAN, we assume).

This one goes with a loving shout–out to Marie–Lynn Hammond, even though this isn't her preferred style of music.

BTW: There is musical life beyond Céline Dion. Just ask Marie–Lynn Hammond. She hosted CBC Radio's long–missed Musical Friends; she'll tell you.

July 27, 2009

And you thought you were alone...

…in wondering why Warner Bros. was rubbing their latest Dark Castle movie Orphan in our faces online.

You weren't the only one annoyed. So was Bethann Buddenbaum, but for deeper reasons than annoying Flash–powered adverts online. Take a long look at what upsets her the most about Warners' latest scare flick.

H/T to Xiaoning Wang of ChinaSprout.

[UPDATE 2009.08.10: Warners' aggressive push of Orphan appears to finally be over. For a while it was practically impossible to access PopMatters — and especially the "Short Ends and Leader" blog — without being sneak attacked/assaulted by Flash–powered advertising for the flick. All Warners did was make me close the browser tab in which the blog was loaded. I hope both PopMatters and Warners got (and still get) blowback from regular readers who are pissed off by this kind of pre–emptive marketing. And, yes, you can stress the words "pissed off."]

July 23, 2009

July 11, 2009

The disc vs. the file

Your Projectionist is preparing to contact the Universala Esperanto–Asocio next week. It isn't about the upcoming Universla Kongreso, which will be happening in Poland this year.

It's about a defective DVD–R of their video Vizito al la Centra Oficejo — a video tour of the UEA's headquarters in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. After about two minutes into the feature, both of my computer's DVD-ROM drives couldn't proceed any further with the disc. So I will need to get it replaced as soon as someone is back from the Kongreso.

Have some of your recent DVD purchases been on burnt DVD–Rs? How many of them have you had to get replaced, or just simply trashed out of frustration?

And if the above has happened far too often for you, have you given up on discs altogether and gone entirely to digital downloads?

I'd appreciate hearing from you in the comments...

July 7, 2009

How much lower can they go?

Had enough toys as TV and movie stars?

Apparently, Hollywood doesn't want to hear your complaints — or the protestations of your maddened Projectionist.

Case in point: the proposed ViewMaster movie, now the subject of talks between Viacom's DreamWorks and current ViewMaster owner Mattel. (Remember when the reel–programmed toy was a GAF property? I still do.)

This is happening a short while before a (ugh) G.I. Joe movie hits screens in the States.

Don't mind your Projectionist; he's just waiting for UTV Pictures to drop Vishal Bhardwaj's Kaminey into the multiplexes on August 14th. (Try visiting the main UTV Motion Pictures website if the special site taxes your computer's processor too much.)

Meanwhile… has anyone YouTubed Mr. Eric Fensler's PSA's? Or gone for a body massage?

July 6, 2009

ACE this

In case you're still of the mindset that educating the young about how to successfully battle climate change is a challenge, the Alliance for Climate Education just made this seemingly daunting task a piece of cake.

Just watch them in action:


©2009 Alliance for Climate Education.

Then get them to come to your schools.

Like we said, a piece of cake.

June 24, 2009

Gag us with a Hummer (if you've got one)

Your Projectionist is sorry he ever leased a 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, especially as the soap opera saga of General Motors Corporation continues to unfold — especially as GM is now more or less in the hands of the United States Government.

And some very clever minds have decided GM needed a reality check, and have unleashed a whole website about GM Retardation.

Perhaps Warner Bros. would like to include the following in a 20th anniversary video re–release of Michael Moore's Roger & Me? It'd be a perfect fit:


©2009 Government Motors Corporation.

Your Projectionist is now planning a savings plan so he can… move to a major city where mass transit rules. So there.

June 18, 2009

Music Time: Break of Reality

Out of Rochester, New York comes the cello–driven band Break of Reality with their version of the metal band Metallica's "The Day That Never Comes."

Yes, we said, cello–driven:


©2009 Break of Reality.

Spectrum of the Sky is the ensemble's latest release. Be sure to check their website for tour dates (and see if they will be landing in your neck of the woods).

Music Time: The Bran Flakes

Just because... here are The Bran Flakes with "Fifty Four Fifty," off their recent Illegal Art release I Have Hands (and animated by member Mildred Pitt):



Heck, why stop there, when you can have some salad with your taco?


Both videos 2009 The Bran Flakes.

"O.K., you can move on now."

June 17, 2009

Coming Attractions: Rebirth of a Nation

New York City's Museum of Modern Art is preparing for several evenings of exorcised ghosts of cinematic racism, as mashed up by DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid (a/k/a Paul D. Miller) — Monday through Sunday, June 22nd–28th.

Have a taste of his Rebirth of a Nation:


Courtesy Starz Entertainment and Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

D.W. Griffith, your film will never been seen the same way again. Thank the goddess.

Air This: "Milk?"

Breakthough cuts through the ad clutter with something very thoughtful:


©2009 Breakthrough.

Message to media outlets in the States: Air. It.

June 14, 2009

Coming Attractions: A word from Michael Moore

Watch out… Michael Moore is back:


Courtesy Overture Films / Paramount Vantage / Dog Eat Dog Films.

Don't say you weren't warned.

Here's to you, Mr. Gowariker (and Mr. Screwvala)

Just saw that Ashutosh Gowariker's epic drama Jodhaa Akbar won big at the IIFA Awards — ten of them, in fact. They include Best Picture, Best Director (bravo, Mr. Gowariker), Best Actor (Hrithik Roshan), and best music director (the one and only A.R. Rahman, who also got a "composer of the decade" trophy).

Not to be outdone, Madhur Bhandarkar's deliciously decadent supermodel drama Fashion got two tropies to crow about: best actress (Priyanka Chopra) and best supporting actress (Kangana Ranaut, whose portrayal of a model in death spiral was a big surprise to your Projectionist).

I'm also happy to see filmmaker Neeraj Pandey get a best story honor for his exceptional effort, A Wednesday!, which, like the others, I had to wait to see on disc.

All three films' wins are a very effective tribute to Ronnie Screwvala, the big producer at India's media powerhouse UTV. He not only saw to it that all three films (plus Mumbai Mere Jaan, Dev D, and countless more) got made, but that they also got made with the highest production values of any Bollywood company right now. As such, UTV is setting the standards for everybody else — not just on the technics but also on the content level as well. The result is a new wave of Indian commercial cinema that Westerners can enjoy without feeling embarrassed.

Jerry Bruckheimer, who favors slickness over substance, needs to watch Mr. Screwvala closely. He might actually learn something. Like how to make real movies, maybe?


BollywoodWorld.com has a rundown of the winners.

June 8, 2009

It's a deal — and it's about time

Well, this is a big relief for marsala movie addicts, your Projectionist included.

BollywoodWorld (which got a nice makeover) and Screen report that producers in Mumbai and India's national multiplex chains (gasp!) actually reached a deal.

The BBC break it down easy for you, and here is an advance look at what's on the horizon.

That said, Screen also notes that a release date clash could still induce a headache or two all around.

My choice to see in a theatre is Yash Raj Films' New York, about three friends whose ties are ruptured by the events of 11 September 2001. It drops on June 26th.

I can't embed the trailer (the studios really need to understand why sharing is a good thing), but you can stream it on BollywoodWorld or on the YRF website. (If you want to see the trailer in the highest possible quality, you will find it front–loaded on the first disc of the DVD release of last year's Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.)

The trailer looks very promising. Hopefully this one will deliver.

Allegeance to a flag — or a cross?

The more your Projectionist hears U.S. conservatives (and neo–cons), the more he wonders if this is where he belongs, or if he needs to expatriate in the not–too–distant future.

Case in point: The attached video is a fragment from Rediscovering God in America (read: United States of America), an epic–length (three hours) presentation by Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Oliver North, three conservative politicos on a "mission," one might say. Basically it was reportedly an excuse to whine yet again about the “continuing availability of abortion, the spread of gay rights, and attempts to remove religion from American public life and school history books.”

But here's the comment that made your Projectionist wonder who wants to be in charge of the lot of us. Quoth the Newt:

I am not a citizen of the world. I am a citizen of the United States because only in the United States does citizenship start with our creator… I think this is one of the most critical moments in American history. We are living in a period where we are surrounded by paganism.


(Gee, does that mean I'm in trouble for learning Esperanto?)

But wait, he's not quite done:



Say… anyone got a one–way ticket to, say, Paris or Mumbai?

May 27, 2009

It is indeed wonderful to create

One of Japan's national treasures — the late, great filmmaker Akira Kurosawa — has gone online. No, not his brilliant movies (you still need to shell out for the discs of those), but here's the next best thing, according to The Japan Times:

Photos of nearly 20,000 items related to renowned filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, including his handwritten storyboards, scripts and production notes, were put on the Internet in an online archive Tuesday.

Many of the items in the Kurosawa Digital Archive are being shown to the public for the first time, according to film company Kurosawa Production Inc., which kept the creations. Kurosawa's eldest son, Hisao, heads the company.


So far, 20,000 of 27,000 items have made the archive, which itself is currently only in Japanese (translations of the site are being planned, though).

Regardless of your level of Japanese proficiency (or lack thereof), have a look at what's up now.

May 25, 2009

Music Time: Céline Wadier with InnaGarden

Your Projectionist is a big fan of the French musician Céline Wadier. Here she is in live performance with the group InnaGarden:


©InnaGarden.

There's more by her at MySpace and ReverbNation. Those sites includes tracks she's recorded with another band, Aesh (available for sale in MP3 format at CD Baby).

Of course, you can also simply press play here for instantaneous bliss:







You are invited to help me (and others) help Mme. Wadier get her Divine Animals album finished and released via SellaBand. Hit the banner below for more details.



May 20, 2009

Music Time: Auto–Tune the News anew

The Gregory Bros. have been at it again, this time stretching out a little:


2009.

Serve it on the rocks. As in ice. As in "very thin ice."

Do you want labor rights with that latte, sir?

Your Projectionist once considered getting a job with Starbucks Coffee, and is now grateful that he didn't get far with that.

Especially as Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films have since begun asking serious questions about the Seattle, Washington–based chain's poor record on labor rights:


©2009 Brave New Films.

Dunkin' Donuts, a rival chain, recently did a anti–Starbucks campaign to plug its own coffee (not the best, sadly). Maybe if they added a shot of populist anger…

May 17, 2009

One latte and a cheap flash camcorder to go

Uh–oh. Your Projectionist is having delusions of grandeur again.

How much?

He managed to acquire a floor model Flip Video camcorder and tried it out by shooting a "making–of" piece that pays hommage to one of his favorite things:

A sugar–free latte, made with 1%. Large. To go.



He used to bring it with him to the local supermarket for his evening checkout shift. (Last night, he was told not to do it anymore. Pooh.)

Coming Attractions: Tales of the Valley of the Wind

Word up: The man who changed your perspective on paranoia (Reflections of Evil), deconstructed George Lucas' most oversold movie franchise (The Untitled Star Wars Mockumentary), and found unlikely connections between 1970's nostalgia and George Orwell (Space Disco One) is back.

This time, Damon Packard goes widescreen and channels Japan's Hayao Miyazaki, with help from a cast that includes Hisao Shinagawa(!!).

Behold Mr. Packard's current trailer for Tales of the Valley of the Wind:


2009 Damon Packard.

Your Projectionist is a fan of Mr. Packard — so much so that he actually helped fund this latest feature. It's still in post as far as I know; more will be posted here when a release date is set.

(Those who have been trying to find Shinagawa-san's albums should look over here.)

Swine flu x 2

Up until now, I haven't had much to say about the H1N1 virus, a/k/a the "swine flu," in part because I've been doing my best to avoid it (partially by staying out of the New York City borough of Queens, where the biggest close cluster of cases has been).

But the kind folk at GOOD Magazine have offered their best consul on the current health crisis and so I {ahem} pass it on to you. To cut to the quick, the best advice they can give is really basic common sense.

Watch and learn:


©2009 Good Worldwide L.L.C.

Meanwhile, the crazed minds at Energia (the Star Wreck people, currently working on Iron Sky and developing a web video series called Project WORM) had a little too much pre–Cannes fun, by using Xtranormal to make their own take on the H1N1 strain.

Way too much fun to be legal:


©2009 Xtranormal Technology, Inc. Text 2009 Tuotantoyhtiö Energia Oy.

"So! You've been watching those bleedin' 28 Days Later… movies again!"

Wait a minute… that's not Danny Boyle logging in right now, is it?

May 16, 2009

A proper test of Time (amended)

I don't normally read Time Magazine, but I was amazed by at least one of the names that made their 2009 "Time 100" list of influential people:

It's A.R. Rahman. The man who recently claimed two Oscars™ (and a BAFTA, and a Golden Globe) for his musical offerings in Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire. He's listed at number 59.

And here's how he got there, as actress Padma Lakshmi explains it for Time:

In India, a country of a billion inhabitants, where film and pop music are one, A.R. Rahman, 43, dominates the music industry so totally that he has supplied the soundtrack for a whole generation… a veritable Pied Piper, he has shaped modern India's music for more than a decade. Now the 'Mozart of Madras' has the world's foot tapping along with him.


Do a search for his discs on Amazon.com alone and see how many discs, most of them movie soundtracks, come up. It's a list that includes films as different as Dil Se…, Ashutosh Gowariker's Lagaan and Jodhaa Akbar, and more recent commercial fare such as Delhi–6, Ghajini, and Yuvvraaj.

Oh, yes: Screen's Top Ten Audio list for Bollywood CDs has the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack at No. 1 (it's on T–Series in India, but Universal–Interscope in the States).

Just color me impressed. Very impressed.

(This is an amended post to include the link to the Time website. I didn't have a chance to update things until now. Many apologies to everyone.)

May 5, 2009

Going their own way

The Bollywood producers vs. national multiplex theatres' tug–of–war is dragging on. And sadly, this quote from UTV Motion Pictures CEO Siddharth Roy Kapur (as quoted by Screen) is an all–too–telling sign of the state of the coming attractions — and where they'll (not) be coming to:

Since there is no resolution on the national chain of multiplex issue, UTV will proceed to start releasing its big and small movies in single theatres and non-national multiplex chain nationwide from July onwards. Dates of release would be announced shortly.


What happened, unfortunately, is that each side stood firmly to their own arguments in talks held on Tuesday. Then the reps for INOX, PVR, et.al. walked out.

And each insists that their argument is the only correct one.

So far, this needless dispute has cost the industry some Rs.200 crore.

How this will affect fans on this side of the Atlantic (or the Pacific) is unclear.

But stocking up on DVDs (and the few Blu–Ray titles available) may be the one best option right now.

The figure of the day

3. Billion. Rupees.

That's how much the standoff between Bollywood producers and Indian multiplex chains will cost the latter, as per Screen.

Message to Inox, et.al.: Get thee to the bargaining table. Now.

May 3, 2009

Remembering Cinema Cinema

Every so often, I go to Hicksville, a Long Island (New York) town with a strong South Indian community, to purchase Indian food and browse two stores that sell Bollywood movies and music.

A couple of weeks ago, while picking up my marsala fix, I picked up the April 24th issue of Desi Talk, one of the free newspapers available to New York's South Indian populace.

After I got home and opened up my copy of the paper, I found myself saddened to read of the April 12th death of Giri Raj Pillari, who founded first the Bombay Holding Corporation and then the Bombay Broadcasting Corporation.

If you lived within the range of WNJU–TV (in its pre–Telemundo heyday), you might remember a one hour Saturday morning show called Cinema Cinema. That was part of Giri Raj Pillari's endeavor to bring Bollywood to the New York metropolitan area — a dream that began when he used a rented a hall to show Indian movies on the weekends.

His sister Vasantha Arora explained the appeal of his efforts to Desi Talk:

In those days, there were no VCRs and DVDs… When I was here in 1981, I used to go and sit in the cinema hall and was quite impressed with the huge crowds that used to come to see movies…


Cinema Cinema made its début in the 1979–1980 TV season. It wasn't the first such show on WNJU, but it did join a diverse leased–time line–up of ethnic programming that made a welcome change of pace from the old Channel 47's Spanish–speaking offerings. That line–up also included the Sunday morning show Vision of Asia — remember that one? They played one half of an actual Bollywood movie (sometimes with hard subtitles — this was back in the era of film prints directly broadcast on TV, before telecine–transferred video became the norm).

Only a few years after Vasantha Arora made the Bombay Cinema one of her regular haunts, firms such as VGP Video Vision of Asia, the Esquire/Everest/Kavico group, and many others would change the way expatriates watched movies. Those videos were still a far cry from what the digital video era would bring, but still…

It probably won't matter to those preparing for Warner Bros.' Region 1 DVD release of Chandni Chowk to China this Tuesday. But this morning, I thought it would be best to recall an era when it took someone as determined as Giri Raj Pillari to bring a huge part of India to the other side of the Atlantic.

And to think that it all looks so quaint today.

April 30, 2009

Will Bollywood's projectors roll again?

Bollywood Hungama (via Screen) certainly hopes so:

A crucial meeting between producers/distributors and multiplexes was held on 29th April and the issues were discussed in the most cordial atmosphere. The meeting was extremely positive, with the two factions agreeing that there has to be a quick solution to the various problems. In fact, the multiplexes are also keen that the deadlock ends as soon as possible.


Hardly any details in the full dispatch, but let's hope this is for real and not a late April Fool's joke.

April 28, 2009

Farewell, Feroz Khan

Very quickly: It's a sad goodbye to Feroz Khan, who had died in his Bangalore, India ranch early Monday morning.

He will be forever remembered for the 1980 feature Qurbani ("sacrifice"), which he not only starred in, but also produced and directed. (BollywoodWorld reports that he had wanted to remake it — a dream that has died with the man.)

Here is a report (via Screen) of Amitabh Bachchan's reactions to Mr. Khan's passing.

Feroz Khan was referred to as "the Clint Eastwood of the East." He certainly made everybody's day in Bollywood. Thank you, sir.

April 26, 2009

House Lights: Less frequent, but still here

Fans of this blog, please note: My postings will be a little less frequent for a while because I recently started a new job (not a glamorous one, mind you, but it's work nevertheless). Between that and my supermarket shift, I'll have less time to post, and it'll have to be when I can find time.

So I hope this past weekend's little burst can tie you over for part of the week. Don't worry, I'll still be on the hunt for news of Bollywood worth sharing (the dispute between producers and multiplex owners in India is still very much on my mind) as well as any political videos and (as you'll note below) any animal nuttiness that's too good to resist.

I expect a little bit more turbulence in 2009, and will be grateful to come out of the other side by year's end.

Thank you, everyone, for bearing with me.

Intermission: Meanwhile, down at the arcade…

No, this isn't why the Projectionist calls his space Whack–a–Flick, but it was too good to resist.

Courtesy of I Can Has Cheezburger:


©2009 Pet Holdings, Inc.

"I want him in the games until he dies playing. Acknowledge."

Heck, why not one more, this one originating from Japan:


©2009 Pet Holdings, Inc.

Yes, but did the cat actually ask you to do that?