VIDEO: CASCADA DE FLORES WITH CLAVELES

Cascada de Flores

Cascada de Flores

Cascade de Flores is a San Francisco Bay area musical ensemble founded by Arwen Lawrence and Jorge Liceaga in 1999. Their musical repertoire consists of music from Mexico and Latin America.

A hallmark of their repertoire is they focus on bringing music from the hidden corners of Mexico, Cuba and Latin America. Their last album Radio Flor pays homage to music from the 1930s and 1940s when radio was the primary platform that united people from Latin America and Mexico. So far the group has produced 4 albums.

We recently interviewed them for our TV show and here is a clip from it. In this video clip below they perform Claveles (carnations) in Spanish

Arwen is on vocals with Kyla Danysh on violin, Jorge Liceaga on guitar and Saul Sierra- Alonso on bass.

 

Watch out for our extended interview with Cascada de Flores.

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VIDEO: PICO IYER ON FILMS, TRAVEL, THE AMERICAN DREAM & MORE

Our interview with author and essayist Pico Iyer on writing, traveling, American pop culture, data obesity, mass distraction, films and Bollywood. Earlier this year Iyer was in San Francisco, which is where we recorded this interview.

Is travel writer the best way to describe Iyer? He calls himself a “transport writer.” Transformation is a subject that fascinates and absorbs him. He wants to put a voice and a face to countries that are otherwise abstractions and that is what propels him to travel to countries like North Korea, Iran or Mongolia.

Films and sports are two of his enduring passions. “I am a movie fanatic…and left to my devices will watch 6 films a week,” he says. We talk to him about Iranian filmmaker Ashgar Farhadi, British filmmaker Asif Kapadia’s  Amy and Clint Eastwood’s American SniperAnd, we wanted to find out what he thought about Bollywood films.

For the past 35 year Iyer has traveled extensively and been to places like Cuba and North Korea that were not open to travelers. What changes has he seen? How does the rest of the world view America? And then there is the lure of the American dream that draws people from all around to America to pursue their dreams and passion. The American dream may have gone past its expiration dream, but is well and alive in rest of the world points out Iyer. You see the American dream constantly revived in Silicon Valley he adds.

How does Iyer process information and deal with data obesity? Tune in to find out what Iyer has to say about.

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

FILM NOTES: BROOKLYN

Director John Crowley’s new film Brooklyn is a wonderfully evocative film set in the 1950s. At first blush Brooklyn seems like a simple story about family, love and finding a home in a new country. Living abroad is never an easy choice. It is a complicated & knotty choice and that is the theme this picture underscores brilliantly.

Brooklyn is a story about Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young woman, who reluntantly leaves her Irish hometown and travels by ship to Brooklyn, New York. Like many immigrants before her she is headed to America to create a new life and home for herself. She is at first racked with guilt and homesickness. She eventually settles down and finds an Italian boyfriend Antonio “Tony” Fiorello (Emory Cohen), who is madly in love with her. But, tragedy stikes her family in Ireland that forces her to return home. Back in Ireland Lacey is confronted with a tough choice of where her home is. Is it Brooklyn with Tony? Or is it in Ireland? You will have to watch the film to find out the answer.

While watching Brooklyn, I was reminded of my own journey from India to the US. The film rekindled all those forgotten memories of dreadful homesickness and the anguish of missing my family, the familiar food, the anxiety of learning to navigate a new place, a new society and figuring out where home is. That Crowley’s film evokes such complex and forgotten memories is a tribute to him and to author Colm Tóibín, whose novel is the basis of the film.

Ronan steals the picture with her wonderful and luminous performance. Cohen is convincing as the smitten boyfriend.

  • Title: BROOKLYN
  • Running Time: 112 minutes
  • Status: Releases November 18, 2015
  • Country: IRELAND-UK-CANANDA
  • Genre: DRAMA

PODCAST: FILMMAKER JAY ROACH ON TRUMBO

Jay Roach

Jay Roach

Filmmaker Jay Roach’s new film Trumbo takes you back to the start of the Cold War period and the fight for the American way of life in Hollywood. The film revisits a dark phase in Hollywood’s history and how fear propelled people in the film industry to act in different ways. The film highlights how Trumbo fought for his right to express ideas and for his freedom of speech. In a way it Trumbo’s fight for his First Amendment rights. What is this American way of life is an idea that Roach examines through the life of Trumbo.

Dalton Trumbo’s political beliefs landed him jail and blacklisted in Hollywood. Trumbo, a talented screenwriter, wrote Roman Holiday, Spartacus, Exodus and many other films. In spite of being blacklisted Trumbo continued to write under different names and in the end he prevailed his words.

In this interview we spoke to Roach on what drew him to make Trumbo and how they got Bryan Cranston to play the lead role. We were also curious to find out what draws Roach time and again to look at the American way of life in his films.

Trumbo stars Bryan Cranston as Trumbo, Diane Lane, CK Louis, Helen Mirren, Elle Fanning and John Goodman.

LISTEN TO JAY ROACH ON TRUMBO

Roach is the director of  Austin Powers trilogy, Meet The Parents, Meet The Fockers and The Campaign. He is the producer of Borat, Sisters and other project.

Roach studied Economics at Stanford and then went to study film at University of Southern California.

 

  • Title: TRUMBO (Rated R)
  • Running Time: 124 minutes
  • Status: November 13, 2015 in San Francisco
  • Country: USA
  • Genre: DRAMA

RENOWNED AND VERSATILE ACTOR SAEED JAFFREY PASSES AWAY

Renowned and versatile actor Saeed Jaffrey passed away on November 14, 2015. The 86-year-old actor died of a brain hemorrhage in London according to the BBC.

A jewel of International cinema as Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian put it, Jaffrey got his start on radio and stage in India. In the 1950s he came to the US on a Fulbright scholarship to study acting at the Catholic University in Washington DC. While he did find much work as an artist in the US, it was in the UK that he found success both on TV and in films.

Jaffrey worked with David Lean, John Houston, Richard Attenborough and other prominent filmmakers. The first Indian film that Jaffrey acted was Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khiladi released in 1977. He then went on to act in other Indian and Bollywood films.

He was married to Madhur Jaffrey and they divorced in 1966.  The couple have 3 daughters. In 1980 he married Jennifer Sorrell.

Jaffrey’s autobiography is called An Actor’s Journey. Here is a list of Jaffrey’s films.

Here are some wonderful tributes to the actor from The Washington Post, BBC and The Guardian

 

 

 

VIDEO: ANARGHYA VARDHANA OF MAVERON

Meet Anarghya Vardhana, a millennial investor, marathoner, math whiz and dancer. We spoke to Vardhana on how she developed her interests in science, technology & sports and how did they turn shape her professional career. For instance, we were curious to find if participating in sports activities helped develop her confidence level. How did sports help hone her skill as a team player?

Vardhana credits her parents for helping develop her interests in science, technology and sports. When we asked her whom she turns for advice her prompt reply was “My father.”  She counts her father as her best friend.

Vardhana graduated from Stanford in 2005 and immediately joined Google. After 4 years at Google she left to work at a startup for a brief period.  She then worked for a non-profit organization and Rothenberg Ventures of San Francisco that is often referred as a millennial VC firm. At Rothenberg she focussed on Virtual Reality (VR) and women in VR. She recently joined Maveron, a VC firm focussed on consumer-only business.

This interview is part of our Women in Science and Tech series sponsored by Zoho Corp. The interview was broadcast on TV in San Francisco Bay area.

PODCAST: NAJI ABU NOWAR ON HIS DEBUT FILM THEEB

Naji Abu Nowar

Naji Abu Nowar Courtesy: Film Movement

Jordanian filmmaker Naji Abu Nowar’s debut film Theeb is a stunning coming of age film of a young Bedouin boy. This period film is set in 1916 during  World War I when the powerful Ottoman Empire was crumbling and losing its hold over this part of the Middle East. The film was shot in Jordan using non-actors from a Bedouin community.

Theeb is the name of the young boy, who lives with his extended Bedouin family in Hejaz province of Arabia. They are totally unaware that World War I is underway. One night their Bedouin community receives a visitor – an Englishman, who wants help in navigating his way through the desert. The Bedouins are famous for their hospitality and suddenly Theeb and his brother find themselves acting as guides to the Englishman. Their journey through the desert is harshly interrupted by an attack and in the ensuing gun fight the only person that survives is Theeb. Suddenly Theeb finds himself lost and alone and learns to fend for himself in the harsh desert environment. How he survives is what the film is about.

LISTEN TO NAJI ABU NOWAR ON HIS DEBUT FILM THEEB

In this interview with Nowar we spoke about the making of Theeb. We wanted to find out what drew him to filmmaking and why he chose to set his film during World War I. While the film does not explicity mention any of the major political developments of that period it is useful to remember that 1916 saw the first Arab revolt. We also wondered about the significance of Theeb, which means wolf. One of the highlights of the film is the stunning desert landscape of Wadi Rum area of Jordan. The landscape is almost like a character in the film and reminds you of John Ford and Sam Peckinpah’s films. Was Nowar influenced by the films of Ford and Peckinpah? Tune in to find out.

Theeb is Jordan’s entry in the foreign language category for the 88th Academy Awards.

Theeb releases in San Francisco Bay area on Friday, November 6, 2015.

  • Title: THEEB  
  • Running Time: 100 minutes
  • Status: Releases November 13, 2015
  • Country: Jordan
  • Genre: Coming of Age/Thriller

 

VIDEO: TOM McCARTHY ON SPOTLIGHT

Director Tom McCarthy’s new film Spotlight is based on a true story uncovered by an investigative team at The Boston Globe. In 2002 the newspaper published a series of reports about the pedophile priests in the Catholic church in Boston. The name of the investigative team in the newspaper is called Spotlight.

McCarthy’s film premiered at the 2015 Venice International Film Festival. In this interview we asked McCarthy why he chose Venice to premiere Spotlight.

Spotlight stars Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Rachel McAdams and Stanley Tucci.

We have a longer video interview with McCarthy coming up later this week.

FILM NOTES: SPECTRE

Spectre, the new James Bond picture by Sam Mendes delivers on its promise with a couple of reservations that I will mention later on in the post.

This is the 24th film of James Bond, a sauve and smooth talking British secret agent, who lives a charmed and dangerous existence. Spectre revolves around Bond (Daniel Craig)  trying to track down a rogue organization called Spectre headed by Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). Spectre is actually an old organization that was previously featured in 6 Bond films. We were first introduced to Spectre in Dr. No and Diamonds Are Forever was the last film to feature them. Bond’s mission is to destroy Spectre and thus begins a fantastic suspend-your-disbelief high-speed chase as 007 travels from Mexico City to Rome to the Austrian Alps and Morocco. And of course, he succeeds brilliantly in his mission. Helping him decipher the Spectre puzzle is Léa Seydoux, whose assassin father was a former member of this criminal organization.

Specter reminds you of old Bond films in terms of the car chase and fantastic locations. And then there are the new elements that Mendes introduced in his last Bond film – Skyfall. I am talking about Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomi Harris as Moneypenny and Ben Whishaw as Q. It looks like these 3 actors have nicely settled into their respective roles.

I had two reservations. The first is that Sam Smith’s title song did not work for me and for many  in the audience. At first I thought it was just me, but then I looked around and noticed people were shaking their heads in a disapproving manner. I heard strong murmurs of disapproval from the audience as the song ended. This is perhaps the first time that a 007 title song did not appeal to me. That title song is the signature, the trademark that heralds the start of an exciting suspend-your-disbelief joyride. I wonder if this reaction to the title song was a generational thing? Maybe we are not the intended target audience? The song is probably geared towards a younger audience, who are just getting introduced to Bond, James Bond films.

The second reservation was with reference to the long helicopter fight scene at the start of the film. That chopper fight sequence featured Red Bull acrobatic pilot Chuck Aaron rolling and diving over Mexico City, while Bond was fighting off the big, bad villan. They could have trimmed that chopper fight scene a wee bit I thought. This was the only instance of Spectre where I was reminded of Bollywood fight scenes and heard myself saying under my breath “Come on, really.” But then hey! that is just my opinion.

If you like Bond films then you just might enjoy Spectre.

  • Title: SPECTRE (Rated R)
  • Running Time: 148 minutes
  • Status: Releases November 6, 2015
  • Country: UK-USA
  • Genre: ACTION