"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Saturday, November 7, 2015

New Photos: Disney's Zootopia

These are a little late going up but we've got new characters stills from Disney's Zootopia featuring the voice talents of Ginnifer Godwin and Jason Bateman. Directors Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph) and Byron Howard (Tangled) announced their cast of characters that will inhabit the world of Zootopia releasing in theatres next March.

(Photos: Disney)
Up first is Mayor Leodore Lionheart who believes anyone can be anything in Zootopia. Voiced by the formidable J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), let's already agree not to get on his bad side.

 Next up, we have Assistant Mayor Bellwether, the overburdened and overstressed assistant of Mayor Lionhart. This simple sheep is voiced by comedian and actress Jenny Slate (Obvious Child).

The Zootopia Police Department is led by Chief Bogo who has to uphold the law in the metropolis and as well as deal with the department's first bunny Judy Hopps. Idris Elba, who's got enough experience with these tough guy roles, voices his first animated character with Zootopia. He's also voicing a character in Disney's Finding Nemo sequel, Finding Dory.

Also part of the Zootopia PD is Officer Benjamin Clawhauser, the receptionist and a cheerful cheetah who enjoys doughnuts a little too much. Clawhauser is voiced by actor Nate Torrence.

The aforementioned first bunny on the police force is Judy Hopps who is determined to prove herself (despite her shady partner) on a missing mammal case. Judy is voiced by actress Ginnifer Goodwin (Once Upon A Time).

Judy's proud parents, Stu, a carrot farmer, and Bonnie Hopps, are delighted to see their daughter join the Zootopia Police Department. Stu and Bonnie are voiced by good friends Don Lake and Bonnie Hunt, who has been a Disney/Pixar favorite.

The story moves forward in Zootopia when Mrs. Otterton shows up at the police station looking for her missing husband. Academy Award-winner Octavia Spencer (The Help) voices the part of Mrs. Otterton.

When the Zootopia PD only have 48 hours to crack the case of Mr. Otterton, wily fox Nick Wilde is paired with Judy to solve it. Jason Bateman voices Nick, whose loyalties are always known.

The very untrustworthy Duke Weaselton, a smaller level crook, may sound familiar to many of you. The Disney regular (Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen) Alan Tudyk previously played the Duke of Weaselton in the monster hit, Frozen.

The fastest sloth working at the DMV? Surely you're kidding me. Nope, Flash the sloth is the speediest at the Department of Mammal Vehicles. A story artist at Disney, Raymond Persi, voices the character.

Anytime the citizens of Zootopia should need any advice, they should head to the local Zen retreat for some knowledge. Comedian and actor Tommy Chong voices the very enlightened Yak, Yax.

One of the smallest animals in Zootopia, Finnick the fennec fox, is most suspicious of everyone. Actor Tommy Lister who is 6'5" in real life voices the character.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing in the movie?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Celebrating 20 years of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge!

(Source: Yash Raj Films)
It's been twenty years since we were invited to 'come fall in love' with Raj and Simran. The directorial debut of Aditya Chopra was the freshest thing Hindi cinema had seen. A love story about second generation British Indians, it reminded us that wherever in the world we may be, we are always Indians first.

Like most films from Yash Raj Films, there were songs in Switzerland. But Raj and Simran's first meeting, that took place in a train. And since then countless filmmakers have tried to replicate that magical meet-cute. But that's also largely due to the actor and actress who played them. Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol become one of the most beloved onscreen couples of Indian cinema. They would go on to make other films together but they are forever etched in our minds as Raj and Simran.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) gave us more than just an iconic screen duo. A whole soundtrack full of memorable songs, numerous quotable dialogues and an ardent wish to take the Eurorail! Shah Rukh Khan's "Senorita, bade bade deshon main, aisi chhoti chhoti baatein hoti rehti hain", grew so popular that even US President Barack Obama quoted it on his trip to India.

What's your favourite part of this iconic film? Mine's always been that scene by the river where Raj and Simran have that veiled conversation about their real feelings.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

New Trailer: Disney's live action The Jungle Book

Hollywood studios often get ideas at the same time. How else do you explain the persisting problem of making films on the same subject by dueling film studios? Going all the way back to William Wyler's Jezebel (1938), a Bette Davis vehicle set in the American Civil War, was made to compete with Gone With the Wind (1939).  Since then, we've had films like Robin Hood and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves both come out in 1991 and more recently, Tarsem Singh's Mirror Mirror and Universal's Snow White and the Huntsman released in 2012. 

This time, Hollywood has Rudyard Kipling on the brain. Out today is Disney's first trailer for Jon Favreau's live action meet motion capture fantasy The Jungle Book coming out next April. Starring newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli and the voice talents of Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken and Lupita Nyong'o, the film is more Kipling than the 1967 animated film. But wait a minute, didn't Disney already make a live-action The Jungle Book way back in 1994 starring Jason Scott Lee? Why yes, they did. But they're Disney, who's going to stop them from making another?

Meanwhile, motion capture transformation king Andy Serkis is directing his first film, Jungle Book: Origins with young Rohan Chand as Mowgli. Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Naomie Harris, Tom Hollander and Serkis himself will be providing the voices. Unlike Disney's The Jungle Book which only has Sethi as the lone human in the film, Matthew Rhys and Freida Pinto will also be acting in the film. There's a long wait to see Jungle Book: Origins; the film is scheduled to release on October 6, 2017.

This new trailer gives us the first look of young Mowgli in action in the jungle going up against Shere Khan, Bagheera, Kaa and more. In fact, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa narrates the trailer, inviting us along with Mowgli to come over to the dark side. Favreau's film has a Lion King feel with a sprinkling of the animated classic (did you catch those few bars of 'Bare Necessity'?). The Jungle Book promises to be a grand scale adventure that will surely please fans of the original novel. One thing's for sure: The Jungle Book is going to look amazing in 3D.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New Trailer: Pixar's The Good Dinosaur

We waited through having no Pixar films for two years, but this year we're rewarded with two in the same year! Inside Out has already proved to be a bittersweet delight, will The Good Dinosaur finish off the year of the dinosaur with a flair?

This new full trailer shows in detail the mysterious yet awe-inspiring world that was the planet Earth millions of years ago. Of course, The Good Dinosaur would also like you to imagine a world where the dinosaurs weren't wiped out by a massive asteroid. The trailer gives us the first proper introduction to Arlo, the young Apatosaurus whose loses his way only to make a new friend who happens to be human on his way to an adventure.

The Good Dinosaur which had a major upheaval in production also recently revealed that the voice cast underwent a change. Pixar must have obviously had massive character changes as child actor Raymond Ochoa will be voicing Arlo, Jeffrey Wright voices Arlo's father Poppa, while Frances McDormand is the only cast member who remains and will voice Arlo's mother Momma. Marcus Scribner voices Arlo's brother Buck while Steve Zahn voices Thunderclap, a pterodactyl.  AJ Buckley is T-Rex called Nash, Anna Paquin voices another T-Rex Ramsey and Sam Elliott voices the third T-Rex Butch. Finally, Arlo’s new friend, Spot, is voiced by another child actor Jack Bright.

The Good Dinosaur, directed by Peter Sohn, releases this Thanksgiving November 25, 2015. What did you think of the first full trailer of the animated film? Yay or nay?

New Teaser Trailer: Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Bajirao Mastani

The newest teaser trailer for Bajirao Mastani released last week shows typical attributes of a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. The sweeping score, the grandiose scale and lately, a doomed love story set against a periodic backdrop. The teaser for Bajirao Mastani releasing this December reveals its three stars gearing up for something... epic, we're just not sure what yet.

Ranveer Singh is Bajirao, the legendary Peshwa ruler, Priyanka Chopra is Kashibai, Bajirao's wife and Deepika Padukone plays Mastani, a warrior who ends up being Bajirao's second wife. The film will probably show they fall in love against all odds. Unfortunately, the fighting scenes especially those with the bow and arrow look so incredibly contrived. Deepika Padukone looks like she's about to finish painting rather than shoot an arrow across a distance. Also, Ranveer's sword in the last few seconds of the trailer looks like it's made of paper not metal. It's not just about hair and makeup that needs attention, these details matter too.

Let us wait and see what the full trailer will unveil. Bajirao Mastani goes up against another big film, Dilwale starring the star pairing of Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol reunited on December 18, 2015. Who will prevail? Which film will you be rooting for?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Blast From The Past: Clueless (1995)

(Photos: Paramount)

It's been 20 years since Amy Heckerling's Clueless (1995) first released but the film still resonates with the audience that initially saw it and anyone who might see it again today (ie. Iggy Azalea's homage to the film in her video for Fancy). Based on Jane Austen's classic novel Emma (1815) about a meddlesome young girl with a heart of gold, Clueless transported the iconic material to a Beverly Hills high school. Featuring Alicia Silverstone in her first leading role, the film also starred Paul Rudd (Hey, there Ant-Man), Donald Faison, Jeremy Sisto, Stacey Dash and the late Brittany Murphy (Girl, Interrupted). Clueless made them all breakout stars that summer of 1995.

The film's teen terminology became instantly quotable, every girl wanted Cher's wardrobe and the soundtrack perfectly reflected was what was popular in the 90s - from Beastie Boys, Radiohead, Coolio, Counting Crows to The Muffs. Based on small budget of $12-13 million, Clueless grossed around $56 million domestically and opened No. 1 at the box office. Not bad for a film that was initially pitched as a television show. The success of the film lead to a spinoff TV series which launched on ABC and finished out the next two seasons on UPN. Most of the cast with the notable exceptions of rising stars Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd reprised their roles in the series.

If you're a diehard fan of this lovable cult classic, then you must check out the new book released just in time for the film's 20th anniversary, As If!: The Oral History of Clueless by Jen Chaney. There you'll find notable nuggets of information on casting (Reese Witherspoon and Angelina Jolie were considered for the role of Cher, Ben Affleck read for the part of Josh which eventually went to Paul Rudd), how Heckerling came up with Cher and Dionne's lingo and how hard the everyone worked behind the scenes to make this little film a reality.

(Photo: Paramount)
Personally, the film just works on so many levels, it's a clever reflection of the social strata, an accurate look at the lives of teenagers and it also happens to be so darn funny. Plus, Clueless introduced us to the adorable Paul Rudd, who looks about the same now as he did in 1995. Silverstone's Cher is a heroine for the ages, self-deprecating yet endearing with her heart in the right place. Which is why, 20 years later, we still love her.

New Trailer: Alejandro G. Iñárritu's The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio has had the good fortune of working with the best directors in business. In recent years, he's become a trusted collaborator of the legendary Martin Scorsose churning out some of his career's best performances. Despite all of this, the Academy is clearly not impressed. They've awarded him five nominations for his work over the years, but he's never quite broken through to win the big prize.

Nevertheless, DiCaprio keeps at it. His latest project, directed by recent Best Director winner Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, pairs him with his Inception costar Tom Hardy yet again. Based on American frontiersman Hugh Glass' cross-country trek after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by his companions, The Revenant is adapted from Michael Punke's 2003 novel. The film's first trailer gives a perspective of a unique Western with its hero out for revenge and retribution.

With stunning camerawork from Emmanuel Lubezki (will he win his third consecutive Oscar with this film?), The Revenant shows us the harsh lifestyle and unforgiving conditions of the unexplored American wilderness. Costarring Will Poulter and Domhnall Gleeson, the film releases on Christmas this year.
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