Posts Tagged ‘Rahul Desai’

I’m going to refrain from telling you how earth-shatteringly strong (literally) I think Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is.
Instead, having watched it on two of Mumbai’s IMAX screens, I’m going to offer you a simple comparison and tell you which screen offers us a better experience. And before you hardened film reviewers roll your eyes at how we call it an ‘experience’, I suspect you’re not going to want to contradict Nolan’s words when he says he designs every film of his—first and foremost—to be an experience.

But we digress.

It’s hard to come to a conclusion about which IMAX screen offers more, especially because you can watch Interstellar for the first time only once. And that first time is always special, irrespective of where one watches it. There’s also no better film to judge the screens on, because more than an hour of footage has been shot on IMAX cameras. And the other two hours has enough exposition and action to keep you fascinated.

The only way to get a 100% pure unadulterated comparison would be if I could wipe out my memory after the first time to start afresh, or perhaps clone myself for parallel time zone views—which sound like two famous movie plots on their own.

Without getting too technical, let me try anyway:

 

PVR IMAX (PHOENIX MILLS, LOWER PAREL)

My first time. Added to it was the thrill of watching it before Friday. So the comparison is already skewed, but there are cold hard facts difficult to ignore.
I managed to put it in perspective only after going to IMAX Wadala two nights later, but a few things stand out here. The sound—which is a major part of Interstellar being effective—is excellent here. It truly engulfs a viewer and takes us very near to how Nolan wanted it to sound universally. The sound design, which many find ‘flaws’ in, is elevated to another level here. This can also work against the larger-than-life images shown on a screen that occasionally feels too small for the environment it portrays. Where has that happened before? Gravity—yes, correct. Another IMAX experience (3D too), but it felt a bit underwhelming here. And that was my first time too. To be fair, no screen is big enough to watch Space on. Except, perhaps, space.
It goes without saying that the screen isn’t half as large as you expect most IMAX screens to be. This is a pity, because if there was ever a film created to be projected onto the vast night sky (which is still not large enough), this is it.
Having said that, I also have no other reference points for a fair comparison other than…

IMAX WADALA

I experienced ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ on this screen two years ago. It wasn’t even Nolan’s strongest film, but I remember being absolutely overwhelmed by what I saw. This is, in no small measure, because of the gigantic screen on which the digital (ouch) images are projected onto. It also helps that this theatre is designed to imbibe a frightening feeling of Vertigo into viewers, more like a vertically steep stadium seating system, which is layered upward and only adds to the overall experience. As a result, no annoying food-orders in front will ever distract you, unless it’s the same row. They’re either too high or too law to obstruct the view. There are times I literally bent forward and held onto the railing in front, afraid that I would drift off into a black hole. This is the nearest to adding another dimension to storytelling, and I would highly recommend this screen for Interstellar—even if the sound isn’t as vibrant as PVR.
If you’re someone who doesn’t prefer tilting your head to look at different parts of the screen (and this will happen, because of the prominent subtitles), this screen could be a tad problematic. Hence, getting a seat further behind makes sense, unlike me—who chose the third row from the screen before getting swallowed by the 5-storied screen. It added to my intoxication, definitely, but I also recommend holding onto somebody after the film is over. Injury, out of disoriented awesomeness, is a distinct possibility.

CONCLUSION

WADALA>LOWER PAREL*
(*subject to genre. An animated 3D movie makes for better and more immersive viewing at PVR.)

However, both are digital IMAX projections, so we’re already on the second tier of viewing comparisons. I’m off to now wallow in the third-tier experience to get a more complete picture—that is watching Interstellar on a regular multiplex screen.
If any of you would like an all-out thorough comparison, please feel free to sponsor my ticket to Hyderabad so that I can have the ONLY genuine 15/70mm IMAX experience in the country. Or better still, add to this post.

– by Reel Reptile aka Rahul Desai

(For more posts by Rahul, you can visit his blog here)

RIP Robin Williams – Genie, you’re free

Posted: August 13, 2014 by moifightclub in cinema, Hollywood, RIP
Tags: , ,

RW

I was around 8 years old when I saw my parents involved in a silly argument.
It was past my bedtime, and much like a sappy movie scene, I walked to them while dragging my favourite quilt along the floor.
“When are you getting a divorce?” I asked, rather hopefully. My father laughed and wondered aloud why I would ask such an inane question.
“So that you can dress up like a lady and be my Mrs. Doubtfire”, I answered with great sincerity. I hadn’t thought it through, of course. So I added, “And I will act like I don’t know it!”

In hindsight, this moment summed up the first time a movie directly affected my subconscious. And the first time I realized what Robin Williams—a pudgy old caretaker woman who transformed into a desperate juvenile father at will—did for me.
It was no coincidence that Genie in Aladdin—another defining character from my childhood—bore more than a passing resemblance to Williams’ quintessentially-underdog face: Lantern jaw, long nose, signature flappy ears, sunken cheeks, pleading eyes and the most tragic smile this side of a cocker spaniel.
It was the sad droopy smile a smitten boy would forcibly wear while cracking lame jokes to make his girl laugh. He would believe it to be hilarious, and in turn, make his awkwardness break the ice.

I remember that smile—that of a dysfunctional husband forcing it on us, when he reasoned with wife Sally Field in court in “Mrs. Doubtfire”. That wounded Oscar-winning smile when Stellan Skarsgard—his ex-friend and rival—mocked his romanticism in “Good Will Hunting”. Or that condemned smile of unrequited love when Annette Bening refused to get over her dead husband in the more recent “The Face Of Love”.

I was too young to fully grasp the experience of watching “Good Morning Vietnam” and “Dead Poets Society” for the first time. Now I’m too old to watch it without being influenced by his following work.
But I remember never being able to forgive the makers of “One Hour Photo”. They had taken my human robot (Bicentennial Man)—in my mind, a whacky invention of the lovable Dr. Kosevich (Nine Months), mutating my memories of Peter Pan into slimy Flubber, and turned him into a blonde-haired psychopathic lab technician. What made it worse is that he hadn’t really changed. Most of it was down to Williams’ own shape-shifting genius, but tell that to a dorky teen already struggling to adjust to Jim Carrey’s new dramatic persona. The barrier didn’t have to be broken in Williams’ case, because he was a naturally gifted performer blessed with an irrevocably needy face for a comedian.
When he tried too hard, he wanted it to show—it was part of his act.
All he had to do was smile more, which led to disturbing images of unstable characters in Insomnia and August Rush.

For some reason, I was forever under the impression that he appeared in an early Batman movie as the Penguin or Ridder. This made sense because if you combine Danny Devito’s old-world gravitas with Jim Carrey’s hyperactive freakishness, you’d get Robin Williams.
He was, in flesh and blood, the resurrection of Tragicomedy.

Moreover, Robin Williams looked like a broken-hearted man. Whether he was actually one, I selfishly chose not to know.
A sad man doing impersonations and silly voices to spread joy held a different kind of charm. It gave rise to a sort of hopeful laughter—not the kind of guffawing that follows stand-up comics who bring the house down, but the kind of restless smiles that made a troubled world a happier place. It was heartwarming, funny and poignant all at once.

Perhaps this is part of his act too, I’d reason—a philosophy and way of life reminiscent of the old frail Chinese magician in “The Prestige”. Was he so committed to his craft? Was life his greatest act?

“Bechaara (poor guy)”, I’d think whenever I’d saw his face on screen. And now I know why.

He was that famous old uncle. Every family has one—the life and joy of every party and festive gathering.
But nobody noticed that he arrived alone, and would always leave alone.

– by Reel Reptile aka Rahul Desai

(This was first posted on Rahul’s blog. For more posts by Rahul, you can visit his blog here)

We are premiering a short film on our blog for the first time. A short i saw during Mumbai Film Festival and liked it. It starts with an intro by its director Mihir Desai. Over to him.

It’s been a year, almost since our short film Aakra-Man first screened at Mumbai Film Festival in 2011. We’ve been dying to post it online but weren’t allowed due to its festival run. Here it is, finally the online premiere of our DIY superhero short, Aakra-Man.

I am never really keen on writing intros or ‘making – of’ posts before my film is watched. Anyone wanting to criticize my work should have the freedom to do so without thinking about how much I struggled to make a film, because frankly everyone goes through that struggle. Most importantly it’s always fun to let the film speak for itself and to see how the audience reacts and interprets my vision.  (Ed – and so i am stopping him right here. Watch the film and then read the rest.)

So I decided to write about something else. Let me jump right into it. (This may or may not be directly related to Aakra-Man so feel free to skip it)

‘Rogue methodology’ is a myth. As filmmakers we are constantly involved in the process of making films, we see our film over and over again. When I put a shot in my film, it’s there for a reason. It’s by choice I’ve added or removed something. You don’t shoot a film with multiple cameras just because you can. The format you shoot a film on is as important as the screenplay of your film. Aakra-Man is essentially a mockumentary. Shooting with a slightly faster shutter speed on digital SLRs helped me achieve what I wanted. It looks more “video” than “film” because ‘videos’ like this would usually come on television and not in theatres. From what I’ve seen, it seems like ‘rogue methodology’ has zero thought behind using a certain format or camera therefore shots end up looking like mistakes or ‘NG Takes.’ The first rule of DSLR filmmaking is, to understand the flaws of these cameras. Only then can you come up with innovative ways to adapt to this new technology. It’s really annoying when popular filmmakers make use of this technology without educating themselves. This is a big threat to smaller filmmakers because once a DSLR feature flops not a single investor will trust its potential. I’ve been working with video DSLRs for a long time and I know a lot of great independent filmmakers making such good use of these cameras. Unfortunately it’ll go unnoticed; DSLR filmmaking in India will continue to be discouraged.

Overwhelmed by the size of these cameras, followers of rogue methodology have probably forgotten that films are first and foremost an emotional experience. If the audience is only talking about how the film has been shot, the filmmaker has failed. Struggles and techniques should be invisible because all of that adds up to the story one is trying to say. That is of utmost importance. Although I agree with Mr. Rogue when he says the cameras should be invisible to the actors but in that process the director shouldn’t become invisible too!! There is only so much an actor can bring to the table. If he or she is a ‘good’ actor they’ll come prepared with the look, body language, research, back story, accent, etc but the rest is how the director moulds their performance. The “why” is the director’s job and the “how” is the actor’s job. Rogue method seems to completely disregard this fact.

If rogue methodology wasn’t enough we have studios trying to put a ban on Vimeo. The reason I make short films is because I get the freedom to experiment. I am aware that when I make a short film I’ll be distributing it online only. My investment is always very low because I won’t make any money after releasing my film online. However, what I will get instead is an audience. This audience of mine, will hopefully support me when I eventually make a feature in the future or make more shorts for the Internet. By banning a distribution site like Vimeo the studios are not only putting an end to creativity but destroying the niche we independent filmmakers have created for ourselves. I can confidently speak for a lot of my fellow indie filmmakers and say that our intent has never been to compete with studios. We just want to co-exist. Vimeo is not just a distribution website, we can use it to share footage and collaborate globally. With the consent of my filmmaker friends abroad I’ve used footage they’ve shot in my documentary Common Thread and they can do the same with mine. Collaboration without increasing production cost! Banning Vimeo is just taking all these privileges away from independent filmmakers. When I was re-cutting Aakra-Man I never thought it would end up becoming ‘just another YouTube video.’ Sadly that’ll be my primary source of distribution here. Social media is a really powerful tool, see what you can do by getting the hashtag #SaveVimeo to trend. It’s really important to the indie film community.

Aakra-Man is just a film about someone who is struggling to ‘fit in.’ Rahul Desai has written and acted this part. We hope this video is worth your time. Our plan for the future is to make a feature length version of this film so please help spread the word and share your thoughts, rate/review it on IMDb. For best quality, watch the film on Aakra-Man’s official website (this is a Vimeo embed, if your network allows it watch it here) Those in US or Canada can download a full HD version for free on iTunes. The rest can watch an embedded version below (please watch it in full HD)

Download Alex Marianyi’s soundtrack for free:

Lastly, please bookmark http://www.aakraman.com . It’s a work in progress website we will be allowing free download of the screenplay and if people are interested to know about the making of the film then a possible commentary by Rahul and me.

Mihir Desai