Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Woodstock, Rains, and Rosemary's angel

  • Variety have announced that Pride and Glory is one of three films that will open the Woodstock Film Festival (October 1-5). This showing on October 2 in New York state will be the film's US premiere.

  • TIFF-wise, the powers that be have scheduled another screening of the film on September 12 at 2.45pm, in addition to the previously announced showing on the 9th. If you would like to attend the latter, a few tickets are up for grabs on eBay - three from one seller, and two from another.

  • In the Before the Rains arena, one writer at The Case for Global Film comments substantially on the film. The piece is nice in its entirety, but below are some excerpts.
General thoughts:
[...] Before the Rains is an intriguing film. ... I enjoyed every frame... The long shots of tea plantations, mountain sunsets and waterfalls...are almost worth the price of admission alone. [...]
[...] The story comes across as a recreation of a classic raj melodrama – one perhaps written by Somerset Maugham. I half expected Bette Davis to emerge from the planter’s house. Louis Bromfield’s book The Rains Came (1937) produced two films, one in 1939 (with Myrna Loy) and one in 1955 (with Elizabeth Taylor). ‘Before the Rains’ is a title which points to the signalling of the climax of the melodrama when the first drops of the monsoon rains fall – most memorably at the end of Black Narcissus (1947). Yet, these are all narratives constructed by American/European writers, produced by Hollywood or UK studios and focusing on a white woman. Before the Rains reverses the narrative focus – the passion comes from an Indian woman, its consequences fall on an Indian man and the director is working with the colonial history of his own state. [...]
The writer also hits back at Philip Kemp's review in this month's Sight and Sound (not online, but here is the publication's link):
[...] I think he [Kemp] reads it in a misleading way. He criticises the film for being too predictable or not believable in terms of the characters’ actions. But this isn’t a ‘realist drama’. The characters all play symbolic roles. It’s a melodrama – one in which the ‘excess’ is there in the beauty and the expressionist nature of the cinematography and the acting. ... The execution of the melodrama is flawless and the issues surrounding the symbolic nature of the characters leads the attentive viewer into quite complex debates about the historical events and what is being represented. ... I for one didn’t find Before the Rains predictable... As a result, I was on the edge of my seat for the last few minutes. [...]
After some discussion of Sivan's background and previous work, the writer says:
[...] Before the Rains is a hybrid of different modes of Indian cinema and the Merchant Ivory mode of ‘quality cinema’. It sounds impossible, but it works. There are moments when Sivan goes for big close-ups which recall The Terrorist, but there are also nicely staged crowd scenes which reminded me of moments in Bhowani Junction, the 1956 Hollywood-British raj melodrama, which has a similar story in several ways. There is a tension in the film whenever it feels like Sivan will move into ‘Bollywood mode’ – but he never does. [...]
There is one reference to Ms Ehle:
[...] The most notable aspect of melodrama excess comes in some of the playing. I want to watch it a second time to be sure, but I remember some eye-rolling, I think from Nandita Das and Jennifer Ehle (as Mrs Moores), that would have been out of place in another film but here worked well. [...]

[...] I’d recommend anyone interested in Indian cinema to watch this film and to enjoy working through its complexities – as well as enjoying Kerala on screen. [...]

  • On the flipside, Been There, Read It, Seen That, Ate It offer a short but pretty searing indictment of most of the film.

  • Podcaster Ken Stoeffler mentions Rains on The Flatus Show, downloadable free on iTunes. His spoiler-ridden, non-serious and potentially offensive discussion about East and West starts at 35.30 minutes. But on the plus side, he does say 'go see the movie, it's really good'.

  • A reminder that Before the Rains comes out on DVD September 16 and can be pre-ordered now from Amazon. Or, if you're going through a lucky phase, Week In Rewind are giving away five free DVDs of the film (anyone can enter, but the discs are Region 1 only). The film's soundtrack can be purchased or downloaded.

  • Finally, busy bee Rosemary Harris has another new project in the works, according to IMDb. Ms Harris is listed as playing 'Light Angel' in a new sci-fi drama, entitled Radio Free Albemuth. Wiki also have a page for the film. Click here for a spoiler-giving synopsis of the novel the drama is based on. Filmed in California and currently in post-production, no release dates are yet available. However, this seemingly well-informed person gives the end of the year as the earliest possible release date.

That's all for today folks!

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