Monthly Archives: July, 2016

His Master’s Voice | Akira Kurosawa


Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa (1910 – 1998)

Japanese painter, sriptwriter and filmmaker

Regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema, Kurosawa directed 30 films in a career spanning 57 years. His last few films were made using his paintings as  storyboards after he had lost his eyesight.

Entered the Japanese film industry in 1936, following a brief stint as a painter. He most frequently collaborated with actor Toshiro Mifune with whom he has made 15 films. His film , Rashomon, was first to open up Western film markets for Japanese films, leading to the popularity of many Japanese filmmakers.

In 1990, Kurosawa accepted the Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Posthumously, he was named “Asian of the Century” in the “Arts, Literature, and Culture” category by AsianWeek magazine and CNN, cited as “one of the [five] people who contributed most to the betterment of Asia in the past 100 years”.

Films of Note: Sanshiro Sugata (1943), Drunken Angel (1948), The Quiet Duel (1949), Stray Dog (1949),  Rashomon (1950), Ikiru (1952),  Seven Samurai (1954),  Record of a Living Being (1954), Throne of Blood (1957), The Lower Depths (1957),  The Hidden Fortress (1958), Yojimbo (1961), Sanjuro (1962),  High and Low (1963),  Red Beard(1965), Dersu Uzala (1975), Kagemusha (1980),  Ran (1985)



Tuesday Blog |The Joker: the history of Batman’s most famous foe

Joker - Batman

The Joker is a fictional supervillain created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson who first appeared in the debut issue of the comic book Batman (April 25, 1940) published by DC Comics. Although the Joker was planned to be killed off during his initial appearance, he was spared by editorial intervention, allowing the character to endure as the archenemy of the superhero Batman.

The Joker possesses no superhuman abilities, instead using his expertise in chemical engineering to develop poisonous or lethal concoctions, and thematic weaponry. Although the Joker sometimes works with other supervillains such as the Penguin and Two-Face, and groups like the Injustice Gang, Injustice League, and Suicide Squad, these relationships often collapse due to the Joker’s desire for unbridled chaos. The 1990s introduced a romantic interest for the Joker in his former psychiatrist, Harley Quinn, who becomes his villainous sidekick. Although his primary obsession is Batman, the Joker has also fought other heroes including Superman and Wonder Woman.

The Joker has been adapted to serve as Batman’s adversary in live-action, animated and video game incarnations, including the 1960s Batman television series (played by Cesar Romero) and in film by Jack Nicholson in Batman (1989), Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008), and Jared Leto in Suicide Squad (2016). Mark Hamill, Troy Baker, and others have provided the character’s voice.

Keeping with this background about the Joker, here is an article by Owen Williams for listing the various actors to have played Joker on screen and a quick look at their personal styles and character interpretations.

The Joker: the history of Batman’s most famous foe




His Master’s Voice | Dustin Hoffman

Dustin Hoffman

Dustin Lee Hoffman (1937 – present)

American actor and film director, with a career in film, television, and theatre since 1960.

Hoffman has been known for his versatile portrayals of anti-heroes and vulnerable characters. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1980 for Kramer vs. Kramer, and in 1988 for Rain Man. Widely considered one of the finest actors in history, Hoffman first drew critical praise for starring in the play, Eh?, for which he won a Theatre World Award and a Drama Desk Award. This achievement was soon followed by his breakthrough 1967 film role as Benjamin Braddock, the title character in The Graduate. Since that time, Hoffman’s career has largely been focused on the cinema, with sporadic returns to television and to the stage.

Along with 2 Academy Award wins, Hoffman has been nominated for 5 additional Academy Awards, and he was nominated for 13 Golden Globes, winning 6 (including an honorary award). He has won 4 BAFTAs, 3 Drama Desk Awards, a Genie Award, and an Emmy Award.

Hoffman received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1999, and the Kennedy Center Honors Award in 2012.

Films of Note: The Graduate (1967), Midnight Cowboy (1969), John and Mary (1969), Little Big Man (1970), Straw Dogs (1971), Papillon (1973), Lenny (1974), All the President’s Men (1976), Marathon Man (1976), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Tootsie (1982), Rain Man (1988), Hook (1991), Outbreak (1995) and Wag the Dog (1997),  Meet the Fockers (2004), Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006), Kung Fu Panda 1, 2 and 3  (2008, 2011 and 2016/voice of Master Shifu)  


Friday Fun Fact | Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)


Ridley Scott was initially asked to direct this movie, but when he declined, Martin Scorsese came on board. It had a huge impact on the way the movie turned out, naturally. The majority of the film was improvised, as Scorsese often encourages. Wanting to work with his dream director, Jonah Hill demanded a chance to audition, won the role, and took a pay cut by being paid the Screen Actors Guild (S.A.G.) minimum, which was $60,000.

Scorsese claimed that the sequence of Jordan (Leonardo DiCaprio) attempting to get in his car while extremely impaired on Lemmons was improvised on the day of filming, and that it was DiCaprio’s idea to open the car door with his foot. DiCaprio strained his back during the scene, and was only able to perform the stunt once. DiCaprio cited Caligula (1979) as an inspiration for the way he wanted the excess and decadence depicted in the film.

Matthew McConaughey‘s scenes were shot on the second week of filming. The chest beating and humming performed by him was improvised and actually a warm-up rite that he performs before acting. When Leonardo DiCaprio saw it while filming, the brief shot of him looking away uneasily from the camera was actually him looking at Scorsese for approval. DiCaprio encouraged them to include it in their scene and later claimed it “set the tone” for the rest of the film.

Jonah Hill wanted to eat a real goldfish because everyone was working so hard on this movie that he didn’t want to be the only person who wasn’t. He wanted everything to be real. Obviously, regulations didn’t allow it. They had a real goldfish and three goldfish handlers/wranglers on set. Hill could keep the goldfish in his mouth for three seconds at a time and then they had to put it back in water unharmed.

Margot Robbie has revealed that she accidentally slapped DiCaprio more violently than she intended to while shooting a scene: she got a little lost in the moment, slapped his face and said “F*ck you”. There was a stunned silence on the set and then all of them burst out laughing, but she feared that DiCaprio would sue her for it. She apologised, but he was impressed with her courage and asked her to hit him again.

On a routine visit, Steven Spielberg spent a day on the set, watching the shoot of the Steve Madden speech. Scorsese claims that Spielberg essentially co-directed the scene, giving advice to actors and suggesting camera angles.

This cast assembled by director Martin Scorsese’s film includes three other prominent directors in acting roles: Rob Reiner, Spike Jonze, and Jon Favreau.




A Shot of Short | The Explorer (Alexander Vestnesstraumen & Ola Martin Fjeld)

This a marvellous piece of movie making, no matter it is only 60 seconds long. And this will resonate with all those people whose younger siblings have made their lives miserable. Linus is busy on a project, one you can make out is scientific, brilliant and an intelligent experiment born out of the very geeky corners of his mind. His younger brother is proving to be quite bothersome at this precise moment when he is hoping for his experiment to succeed.

This funny one-minute film by Norway’s Alexander Vestnesstraumen and Ola Martin Fjeld is smartly made — has great shots that describe things perfectly within their one frames, the editing is hurried, but only because of the sense of urgency this story demands, and the bombastic score that stands out — driving the drama of this silly, aggravating situation all the way to the punch line.


His Master’s Voice | Park Chan-wook


Park Chan-wook (1963 – present)

South Korean film director, screenwriter, producer, and former film critic

One of the most acclaimed and popular filmmakers in his native country, Chan-wook’s films are noted for their immaculate framing, black humour and often brutal subject matter. Park said his films are about the utter futility of vengeance and how it wreaks havoc on the lives of everyone involved. His films have a massive audience worldwide, having done spectacular business and won close to 25 awards across several international film festivals. Hollywood filmmaker Quentin Tarantino considers Chan-wook’s films to be one of his biggest sources of inspiration.

Films of Note: Joint Security Area (2000), Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Oldboy (2003), Lady Vengeance (2005), I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK (2007), Thirst (2009), Night Fishing (2011), Stoker (2013)

Friday Fun Fact | The Jungle Book (Jon Favreau)

The Jungle Book 2016

The Jungle Book released in India a week ahead of its US debut, to pay tribute to the Indian environment of the novel on which the film is based.

The first time King Louie appears on the screen, he is sitting in a chair, his face obscured by shadows and talking in a sinister, slightly muffled voice about offering Mowgli protection before finally revealing his face. This is an obvious homage to the classic film Apocalypse Now (1979) in which Marlon Brando‘s character, Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, first appears on screen similarly composed. Also, the scene where Louie first shows his hand to Mowgli is a homage to the Peter Jackson version of King Kong (2005) where Kong does the same thing upon meeting Ann Darrow.

Unlike the 1967 film, also by Disney, King Louie is an actual villain in this version, where he is more antagonistic and sinister, and though he is a bit more charming and convincing, he can be quite impatient and aggressive. Though many see him as a villain in The Jungle Book (1967), he is actually more of an anti-hero in it, and has been seen in his other appearances in film and television to be on the same side as Mowgli, Bagheera and Baloo.

In the 1967 movie, King Louie was an orangutan. In this film, he’s a gigantopithecus, an ancestor of the orangutan whose range is believed to have also lived in parts of India. This change in species was made to make the film more fantastic, seeing as it would be a good way to represent him as king of the monkeys, and since orangutans are not native to India.

Right before he meets King Louie, Mowgli finds a cowbell in the monkey palace and proceeds to pick it up and shake it, causing Louie to appear. King Louie is played by Christopher Walken, who once famously stated on a sketch on Saturday Night Live in 2000, “I have a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!” Amid the treasures in King Louie’s temple, one of them happens to be Genie’s lamp from Aladdin (1992).

Man’s ‘Red Flower’ (Laal Pushp in the Hindi version) has a bigger role in this film. In the older version, it is mentioned briefly by King Louie but in this version several animals mention it and it is implied all animals apart from Louie fear it. This possibly explains why Louie wanted to know how to make fire so he can use it to his own advantage so that all animals including Shere Khan fear him.