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:


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:


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 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, 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, 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.