VIDEO: A FANTASTIC WOMAN”S SEBASTIAN LELIO & DANILA VEGA

A highlight from our upcoming interview with Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Lelio and transgender actress Danila Vega. I got to ask them a couple of questions from the famous Proust Questionnaire. We have a longer interview coming up with Lelio and Vega.

Lelio’s film A Fantastic Woman is Chile’s entry in the best foreign-language film category for the 2018 Oscars. The film stars Vega and how she deals with the sudden death of her lover played by Francisco Reyes.

A Fantastic Woman releases in early February 2018 in the San Francisco Bay area.

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FILM NOTES: LADY BIRD

I did not know what to expect from filmmaker Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. I missed multiple screening opportunitiesto see the film. I deliberately skipped reading the reviews since I wanted to discover for myself what the film was about. Finally, a few days ago I watched the film and came away thinking what a beautiful love story on Sacramento, the capital of California. More importantly, the film captured those special years in all our lives when we transition from high school to college. Like many teenagers most of us are eager to become adults and do grown-up things and not listen to the continuous stream of concern and advice from our parents. All we want to do is break free and go to a new place and experience new things, new people and new passions. We are so eager to spread our wings since we think we are stuck in a cage. Little do we realize that the grown-up journey is fraught with intense highs and lows. It is only years later when we look back to those memories do we realize our parents were looking out for us and those high school days were some of the best in our lives. That in essence is the story of Lady Bird for me.

Lady Bird is definitely inspired by Gerwig’s story of growing up in Sacramento. Gerwig does a brilliant job of distilling that high school experience with such great sensitivity and fun. And then there is that Gerwig trademark – a bit of quirkiness. The story revolves around Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), whose dream is to leave Sacramento and study in an East Coast college. Her mother’s (Laurie Metcalfe) preference is that she study in California since they cannot afford the tuition for an out-of-state school. Her father (Tracy Letts) secretly supports “Lady Bird’s” wish. While in high school “Lady Bird” discovers her love for Danny O’Neill (Lucas Hedges) and her first lover (Timothe Hal Chalamet). After a series of rejections, Lady Bird gets into a college in New York. She is over the moon that she can finally leave Sacramento and experience life on her terms. Her mother, on the other hand, is distraught and refuses to talk to her. And, it is in New York Lady Bird discovers that all-too-familiar feeling of homesickness and misses her family and friends. Like many of us “Lady Bird” discovers that her heart is really in the town that she grew up, and that those years were indeed special.

By stripping the story to its essence I have not done justice to the filmmaker, actors, director of photography, editors and others. Gerwig, who wrote and directed the film had a clear idea of what she wanted to capture in her debut film as a director. She had me hooked right from the first frame as Lady Bird and her mother are driving back home to Sacramento and she declares she hates California. And I thought why in heaven’s name does she hate California? Now this is going to be interesting to find out I thought.

Ronan is fantastic as Lady Bird, and Metcalfe’s portrayal of an over-worked and anxious mother is brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the film.

Lady Bird released in November 2017 in the US.

FILM NOTES: ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD

For 132 minutes I was totally absorbed in watching Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World. David Scarpa’s screenplay is strong and effective and is inspired by a true story.

If ever there was a tale to tell this was it was the first thought that popped in my head when the end credits rolled. And being uncommonly wealthy does not automatically translate into happiness and joy. Often extraordinary amounts of money shape and skew your thinking and behavior in an unhappy and miserable way is what I came away after watching the film.

All The Money In The World is about the extraordinarily rich and famous oilman John Getty (Christopher Plummer)  and the 1973 kidnapping of his grandson John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) in Italy. At first they think the kidnapping is a hoax. Instead it turns out to be true and involves long and painful months of negotiation between the kidnappers and the Getty family. Gail Getty (Michelle Williams) tries to get the ransom money from her father-in-law, who famously refuses to pay it. The kidnappers mail a severed ear of the kidnapped Getty that finally propels Getty to fork out the ransom money. “To be a Getty is an extraordinary thing,” says the grandson at the start of the film and after watching the film you realize how extraordinarily different they were. All the money in the world could not save the Getty family from this traumatic experience that left deep scars in the family. All the money in the world stultified Getty’s love for his first-born grandson.

There is almost a Shakespearean element in All The Money In The World with its tragic overtones and Christopher Plummer delivers in spades as the miserable, conflicted and cold John Getty, the only billionaire in the world in the 1970s. Getty was famous for his parsimonious ways and yet had one of the best art collections in the world. People change, but objects don’t was Getty’s justification. Plummer’s nuanced portrayal of a conflicted Getty is brilliant. I guess it should come as no surprise that Plummer was director Scott’s first choice, but that did not happen. Instead they chose Kevin Spacey to play the role. Six weeks before the release of the film Spacey’s sexual allegations surfaced and Scott decided to re-shoot the film with Plummer in the role of Getty senior. After watching the film you realize why Plummer was Scott’s first choice.

Plummer and Williams form the backbone of the film and their performances are strong. I wonder if Plummer will get nominated for an Oscar for his performance in All The Money In The World. I am betting that he will be.Charlie Plummer pulls off his role with great aplomb as John Paul Getty III. Mark Wahlberg’s performance in the film was clearly over-shadowed by Plummer, Williams and Plummer.

Special mention must be made of Academy Award winning editor Claire Simpson (Platoon, Wall Street, Far From The Madding Crowd, Constant Gardner). Simpson edited All The Money In The World and I am intensely curious to find out how she edited the film the second time around.

Films  have a way of kindling our curiosity and our library of thoughts. All The Money In The World certainly kindled my curiosity especially since the Getty family has such a strong San Francisco connection. Gail Getty and her husband Paul Getty-II grew up in San Francisco before embracing their globetrotting lifestyle. I went scurrying to read about the Getty family and  ended up reading Uncommon Youth: The Gilded Life and Tragic Times of J.Paul Getty III by Charles Fox. Next, I wanted to find out more about Christopher Plummer and his brilliant acting career. I searched and found a fascinating 90 minute long interview In Conversation With David Plummer by David Edelstein. I am currently reading Plummer’s In Spite of Myself: A Memoir.

I wonder if Plummer will get nominated for an Oscar for his performance in All The Money In The World. I am betting that he will be nominated.

All The Money In The World released on Dec 25, 2017 in the US.

 

VIDEO: DIRECTOR PAUL MCGUIGAN ON FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL, BARBARA BROCOLLI & ANNETTE BENING

We spoke with director Paul McGuiganabout his new film Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool and working with Annette Bening and producer Barbara Broccoli of the James Bond franchise fame.We also spoke with McGuigan about directing the first few episodes of Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool is about a love affair between Oscar-winning actress Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening)  and Peter Turner (Jamie Bell). The film is based on a memoir written by Turner.

Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool releases Dec 29, 2019 in the US.

Here is a list of TV stations in the US that broadcast our weekly TV show. Do subscribe to our YouTube channel and podcast where we feature new interviews every week.

 

VIDEO: FILMMAKER PAUL McGUIGAN ON SHERLOCK & BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH

Filmmaker Paul McGuigan shares how he got involved in directing the first few episodes of BBC’s Sherlock series with Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and others.

Sherlock series is available on Netflix.

We have a longer interview coming up with McGuigan on his new film Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool l starring Annette Bening  and Jamie Bell. The film is based on a true love story between Oscar winner Gloria Grahame (she acted as Violet in Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life) and Peter Turner.

Here is a list of TV stations in the US that broadcast our weekly TV show. Do subscribe to our YouTube channel and podcast where we feature new interviews.

VIDEO: FILMMAKER RICHARD LINKLATER ON VISUAL THINKING & FILMMAKING

Is filmmaker Richard Linklater a vivid, visual thinker? That was the question I asked him. He has some version of photographic memory shares Linklater. His mom thought something weird was going on and he got tested for it as a kid, but that visual thinking did not help him in school he says. It was not until he was in his early 20’s that he discovered films and that is when his visual thinking helped him as a filmmaker. It is a skill you should have as a filmmaker Linklater says.

This is a highlight of our longer interview with Linklater that aired on TV and is available on our YouTube channel.

Here is a list of TV stations in the US that broadcast our weekly TV show. Do subscribe to our YouTube channel and podcast where we feature new interviews.

VIDEO: JASON SUSSBERG ON BILL NYE: SCIENCE GUY

Jason Sussberg shares how he and David Alvarado came up with the idea to make their documentary Bill Nye: Science Guy. The filmmakers pitched the idea to Nye to make a film on his life and legacy and his fight against anti-science. Nye is on a mission to educate adult, especially millennials on the importance of science. Many of them grew up watching Bill Nye’s science program on TV.

This clip is a highlight of a longer interview with Sussberg on the making of Bill Nye: Science Guy. The film releases on Nov 17, 2107 in San Francisco Bay area.

This interview aired on TV in the US. Here is a list of TV stations in the US that broadcast our weekly TV show. Do subscribe to our YouTube channel and podcast where we feature new interviews.

 

3rd i SF INTERNATIONAL SOUTH ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL NOV 9-12 & Nov 18

If it is fall then it is time for 3rd i SF International South Asian Film Festival.  The festival celebrates its 15th anniversary Nov 9-12 in San Francisco and Nov 18 in Palo Alto. The film festival spotlights South Asian filmmakers from around the world, including films from India’s dream factory – Bollywood.

This year’s opening film is Canadian filmmaker Arshad Khan’s Abu (Father). This is a poignant and heart breaking film that spotlights migration and growing up gay in Pakistan. “Migration is the hardest thing in the world,” says Khan in the film. And, then coming out to your family is even harder he adds.. The film ” is the story of Khan’s life and the challenges of growing up a gay man in a close-knit Muslim family writes Gayle MacDonald of Globe and Mail. Khan collaborated with well-known Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta to make his film.

The center piece of this year’s festival is a live multimedia performance by musician and composer Gingger Shankar. In Nari: The Unsung Story of the Women from India’s First Family of Music  Shankar celebrates the life and work of her mother Viji Shankar and grandmother Lakshmi Shankar.The event is on 11th November at 3 pm in Castro.

The festival’s must-have Bollywood film is back this year with Om Shanti Om that celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. This is the debut film of Deepika Padukone, who is now a major Bollywood actress. The film’s over-the-top dance numbers will have you tapping your feet away.

And, if you have not seen director Amit V Masurkar’s Newton then this is your chance to catch this absorbing film. The film left me thinking the on what it takes to conduct free and fair elections in a remote village in India. Newton is India’s entry for the 2018 Oscars.

Besides these films there are features, shorts and documentaries like The Last Man In Dhaka Central, Random Acts of Legacy, Gurgaon and Shepherdess of the Glaciers.

On Nov 18 the film festival moves to Silicon Valley for a day where you can catch some wonderfully evocative films like Cinema Travellers that takes you into the analog world of 35 mm films and tent cinemas in Maharashtra. The other films screening in Palo Alto include The World of Goopi and Bagha, Bad Brown, Bride: 3 Desi Series and Dance Like A Man.

Visit 3rd i‘s website for information on tickets and the film festival line-up.

The Kamla Show is a media partner for the  3rd i SF International South Asian Film Festival.

VIDEO – RICHARD LINKLATER ON HOW HE WATCHES FILMS

Ever wondered how filmmaker Richard Linklater watches films? I did. Linklater famously watched 3 films a day as a young filmmaker. So, I wondered how he watches a film? I got to ask him that question at a recent interview we did with him in San Francisco. Linklater famously watched 3 films a day as a young filmmaker. So, I wondered how he watches a film? Tune in to find out what Linklater had to say on films and the influence of Soviet filmmaker Andre Tarkovsky.

This interview is a highlight from our upcoming interview with Linklater on his new film Last Flag Flying and how he became a filmmaker. The film releases on November 10th in San Francisco Bay area.

Bernie, Boyhood, Before Sunset and  School of Rock are some of the films Linklater directed.

Here is a list of TV stations in the US that broadcast our weekly TV show. Do subscribe to our YouTube channel and podcast where we feature new interviews.

 

VIDEO: FILMMAKER BRETT MORGEN ON JANE GOODALL, FILMMAKING & MYTHOLOGY

Filmmaker Brett Morgen (Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck), shares on what drew him to make his new documentary Jane (on Jane Goodall),  his most soulful film yet as he put it.

Jane is based on over 100 hours of 16mm archival footage shot by Hugo van Lawick, Goodall’s first husband, for National Geographic. The film is a love story of Goodall and her utter devotion to her work on chimpanzees and conservation. We get a rare opportunity to see how Goodall’s fascination for animals and Africa began at a young age and how her mother nurtured and supported her interests and accompanied her to Africa on her first trip. We also get to see Goodall and van Lawick fall in love and start a family.

I caught with Morgen in San Francisco to talk about the making of Jane and why he chose Philip Glass to compose the music for the film. We also spoke on how de developed an interest in films and the role of mythology.

Jane is currently airing in theatres in the US.

Here is a list of TV stations in the US that broadcast our weekly TV show. Do subscribe to our YouTube channel and podcast where we feature new interviews.