written by laura irvine &/or jennifer young
Laura's weekly "Now Showing" blurbs
India, 2004, Hindi with English subtitles
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra,Director: Abbas-Mustan., Music: Himesh Reshammiya
AITRAAZ is kinda trashy, very broad, and lots of fun. This is one of my guilty pleasure movies. Priyanka Chopra, who just keeps getting better and better, plays sinister & slutty damn well. Akshay Kumar, who also keeps getting better and better, gives a solid perfomance as a new husband who's ex-girlfriend wants him pretty darn bad, and Kareena is Kareena, but not so goofy. Love the music, dance numbers, sets, etc. Worth seeing for the pirate ship sequence and the number where Priyanka rolls around on the floor--don't question, just go see it! BTW, it's a remake of the 1994 US film DISCLOSURE starring Michael Douglas and Demi Moore. This version is much more fun!
2005, India, Hindi with English subtitles
Cast: Kareena Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Sushmita Sen, Akshay Kumar
Not bad, but could have been better. Good, catchy title song, but it's reprised a few too many times. Not enough dance numbers. But it's still Bollywood fun--always good to see Kareena Kapoor, she of the beautiful figure, and Sushmita Sen, she of the beautiful everything. Unlike in his recent comedies, Akshay Kumar is a bit flat in this one, but he sports interesting facial hair. Showing in San Francisco at the Balboa! Also showing at the Naz and IMC.
India, 2004, Hindi & English with English subtitles
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Rani Mukherjee, Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Wow! I loved this film. It's a re-telling of THE MIRACLE WORKER with a twist. Stunning performance by Amitabh--especially his scenes with novice actress Ayesha Kapur who plays the deaf/blind lead character as a child. In fact, all of the performances are good. I cried--frequently--and I love it when a movie gets me that emotional. No singing, no dancing, but a beautiful score. In fact, the film has a very western feel to it (and it's only two hours), but it's still much more emotional than most Hollywood films. It almost transcends melodrama--which led me to describe the film as a "ultra emotional mega drama." Guess I just can't say "emotional" enough. Between BLACK and his last film, DEVDAS, Bhansali iscurrently my favorite director. The world he creates is at the same time magical and realistic, beautiful and frightening. This movie is visually stunning--so much so that flashes of shots appear unannounced in my head at inappropriate times. Go see it on the big screen. Really, I mean it, you have to see BLACK in the theater to fully appreciate the beauty of this film.
Japan, 2003, Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Takeshi Kitano, Starring Takeshi Kitano, Tadanobu Asano
Wow, Miramax actually released this one rather quickly! Although I'm not sure why they changed the title to THE BLIND SWORDSMAN: ZATOICHI rather than ZATOICHI, THE BLIND SWORDSMAN. I'll never understand those mysterious Miramax decisions. Speaking of Miramax, I saw ZATOICHI on Friday, the day it opened, and a Miramax rep was waiting outside the theatre to catch exiting movie-goers. She was handing out surveys that included questions asking things like whether the film met your expectations, how you heard of it, etc. I, of course, got all militant in the comments section about the fact that they should release all of their Asian acquisitions subtitled, uncut, with the original freakin' soundtrack, and but I did thank them for doing so with this release. Anyway, enough of my tirade... ZATOICHI is all I expected and more. Beautiful cinematography, great score, quirky Kitano moments, and a really hip musical ending. Go see it now! BTW, according to the official site,
(12:00, 2:30, 5:00) 7:30, 10:00pm
2005, UK, Punjabi/Hindi/English with English subtitles
Director: Gurinder Chadha, Cast: Aishwarya Rai, Martin Henderson Official site
Another crowd pleaser from BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM director Gurinder Chadha. Could have stood with a stronger male lead, but enjoyable still.
India, 2003, Dubbed in Hindi with English subtitles
Directed by Rituparno Ghosh
Cast: Aishwarya Rai, Prasenjit Chatterjee, Raima Sen
I was really looking forward to this one, but I gotta tell ya, it's pretty darn slow. It's a beautiful film, but it's far too art-y for my tastes. Also, this print is odd because it's the Hindi dub version (the original language is Bengali), and the dubbing is not so good. Also, the running time is a little under 2 hours, but the original cut of the film is 2 hours and 47 minutes--which makes for a choppy, confusing film. No musical scenes.
India, 2004, Hindi with English subtitles
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Sunjay Dutt, Aakshay Khanna, Amrita Rao, Kay Kay
Director: Gaurang Doshi
Music: Aadesh Shrivastava
The Big B is terrific & Sanjay Dutt is his usual cool self, but the script could have used some work. Worth seeing for the performances, but don't expect much more.
India, 2004, Hindi with English subtitles
Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Uday Chopra, John Abraham, Esha Deol, Rimi Sen, Director: Sanjay Gadhvi
Lots of fun. Abishek Bachchan is really hot and plays well with Uday Chopra. Predictable plot with lots of holes, but it's still a fun ride.
India, 2004, Hindi with English subtitles
Salman Khan, Preity Zinta
Sorry, but this movie is really bad. The story, script, and acting are not so hot. Nice soundtrack with some good songs, but the dance scenes are uninspired. This one blew my friend's theory that if a Bollywood movie has good songs, then the movie will be good too.
2002, Hong Kong
Directed by the Pang Brothers, a stylish horror thriller with a kick-ass ending. Ignore the Chronicle review, this one is worth seeing.
Starring: Kareena Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor, Fardeen Khan
I really liked this one. Love story/suspense film with Kareena and real-life boyfriend, the babyfaced Shahid Kapoor--who is surprisingly good. Lots of violence and angst.
India, 2004, Hindi with English subtitles
Starring: Salman Khan, Arbaaz Khan, Shilpa Shetty, Amrish Puri
Music: Sajid-Wajid and Anu Malik
I loved this movie. Is it a good movie? Well, um, not really, but it's still great. Filled with overly dramatic muscially-punctuated dialogue and fluctuating from extreme violence and heavy drama to club scenes at the Kit Kat club to, as my buddy put it, "dancing in the tall grass." Salman Khan does some of his best over-acting. I count this as a must-see for hardcore Bollywood masala fans.
China, 2002, Mandarin with English subtitles
Directed by Zhang Yimou. Starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Jet Li, Maggie Cheung, Donnie Yen, Zhang Ziyi
Well, Miramax is finally releasing HERO. Go see it. It's big, beautiful, colorful, and it's got a terrific fight between Jet Li and my fave Donnie Yen. Try to go the opening weekend to show Miramax that they should release all the Asian films they've bought sometime this century--unedited and with the original soundtracks, of course.
Official site
Read Shelly Kraicer's article for a very interesting take on HERO.
USA, 2004
Not nearly as scary as the original, but still a competent film with a few scary moments. Since it's the same director, it's interesting to see the changes made in the story and mood for the American audience.
China/Hong Kong, 2004, Mandarin with English subtitles
Director: Zhang Yimou, Cast: Zhang Ziyi, Andy Lau Tak-Wah, Takeshi Kaneshiro official site
Terrific action scenes, gorgeous cinematography, twist-y story, meldodrama. Much to love. See it on the big screen.
India, 2004, Hindi with English subtitles
Directed by Kunal Kohli. Starring Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukerji. Music:Jatin-Lalit
Rani, Rani, Rani! And Saif Ali Khan who I think is fantastic ever since he actually held his own vs. the ever charming Shah Rukh in Kal Ho Naa Ho. Fun romance, good dance numbers & music. Rani at her most luminous.
2003, Japan, Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Takashi Shimizu.
Cast: Megumi Okina, Misaki Ito, Misa Uehara, Yui Ichikawa and Tsuda Kanji
Ignore the really stupid, uninformed review in the Chronicle. This movie is definitely spooky as long as you know you're in for a wet-girl-with-long-hair Japanese horror flick.
Hong Kong 2002 | 97mins | 35mm Color | Cantonese w/ E.S.
JUST ONE LOOK is a wonderful film with perfect casting including a solid, charming performance by Anthony Wong as a pragmatic gangster. When I hear the words "coming-of-age tale," I usually running screaming, but this film had me laughing, crying, admiring the tight script and acting, & humming the infectious soundtrack. Go see this movie on the big screen. It's one of the best films to come out of HK in the last few years.
India, 2003, Hindi with English subtitles
Who can resist a Shahrukh Khan film? Certainly not me. Wonderful tearjerker by the folks who brought you KABHI KHUSHI KABHIE GHAM and KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder why in the heck they included that awful "It's Time to Disco" number. Also starring Preity Zinta, Saif Ali Khan, and the gorgeous Jaya Bachchan & Reema Lagoo as the moms. Word of warning--you'll be uncontrollaby humming the main theme for days.
India, 2004, Hindi with English subtitles
Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan, Aishwarya Rai, Tushar Kapoor
KHAKEE is a terrific film with great acting and lots of twists and turns. It reminded me of a HK thriller from back in the day (early 90s). I can't say enough good about this movie--as long as you're not expecting lots of dance numbers. Go see it!
USA, 2003
Quentin Tarantino's homage to Asian action films with appearances by Gordon Liu & Sonny Chiba & and especially fun performance from BATTLE ROYALE alum Chiaki Kuriyama.
India, 2004, Hindi with English subtitles
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Vivek Oberoi
Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Director: Sameer Karnik
The new Ash movie with her new boyfriend Vivek. Added bonus is Amitabh. The movie's actually not very good unless you just need an Ash fix--and even then it's not very satisfying. Vivek makes me nervous when he does these happy roles, I always feel like someone needs to give him some tranquilizers. Lots of filler in this movie, and the dance sequences aren't the best.
India, 2004, Hindi with English subtitles
Directed by Kunal Kohli. Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta, Om Puri, Sharad Kapoor
Music: Shankar-Eshan-Loy
Lyrics:Javed Akhtar
Worth seeing for the Hrithik dance scenes alone--especially his Prabu Deva-choreographed solo number. Some nice photography and exciting battle scenes, but gets bogged down with too many battle scenes and some stiff acting by Hrithik in the latter half of the film. Not a bad film, though.

India, 2004, Hindi with English subtitles, 182 minutes
Directed by Farah Khan. Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Sushmita Sen, Suniel Shetty, Zayed Khan, Amrita Rao, Naseeruddin Shah. Music: Anu Malik
Woo hoo! The new Shah Rukh movie is here. Not playing at the Naz, but it is showing at the IMC6 and a couple of mulitplexes in Alameda Co. I had to laugh at the blurb about this from the Subway Cinema newsletter from NYC:

"MAIN HOON NA! MAIN HOON NA! The first big Bollywood film of the year is opening at theLoew's State. A zillion screenings a day! It stars Shah Rukh Khan who is studliness defined (he's the heir to Cary Grant's throne ever since Chow Yun-fat got pudgy), and it's the directorial debut of choreography legend, Farah Khan. It's all about terrorism...and a college romance. Huh? I don't know either, but I'm going to go and find out. If you care about Bollywood, you'll be there."

Yeah, what he said. I know I'll be there.

India, 2004, Hindi with English subtitles
Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Akshay Kumar
Fun premise--real life angry man Salman Khan plays a man who has anger management problems who moves to a vacation paradise after promising his grandmother that he will never hit anyone again. Enter the cocky Akshay Kumar who tries to pick up on Salman's girl, the multi-talented incredibly beautiful Priyanka Chopra. Hilarity ensues. Rockin' soundtrack, funny movie.

India, 2003, Hindi with English subtitles
Sunil Dutt, Sanjay Dutt & Gracy Singh
Director: Raju Hiranhi
Heart-warming comedy starring Sanjay Dutt. Lots of good music and dance numbers. Especially fun for Sanjay Dutt fans since he definitely carries the film. I really liked this movie. Recommended. 
Japan, 2004, Japanese with English subtitles
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda, Cast: Yuya Yagira, Ayu Kitaura, Hiei Kimura, Momoko Shimizu official site
Haunting, devastating film about four small children abandoned by their mother. Three are confined in a small apartment for months, while the oldest son, who leaves the apartment to buy food and scrounge for money, struggles to keep them all alive. All of the kids (who are not professional actors) give amazing performances-- especially Yuya Yagira (the oldest son) who became the youngest actor to win the Best Actor award at Cannes. Kore-eda always picks difficult subjects, and this is one of the most difficult yet. But it's well-worth seeing.
Hong Kong, 2001, Cantonese with English subtitles
Directed by Stephen Chow Sing-Chi. Starring Stephen Chow, Vicki Zhao Wei, Ng Man Tat
It's almost unbelievable that Miramax finally released this movie. The good news is that it is in the original Cantonese with English subs. The bad news is that there are some cuts--although they are minor. Of course, one cut is too many...and, yes, they do for some inexplicable reason manage to replace one of the music cues with---wait for it---a hip hopped out version of Kung Fu Fighting. I honestly don't understand Miramax's obsession with that song. The rest of the score, however, is intact. It is worth seeing on the big screen even though most of us have owned the DVD for almost 4 years now. Maybe now Miramax will get around to releasing HERO--although the last I heard they're releasing it as JET LI'S HERO. Bet that's news to Zhang Yi Mou:-/

India, 2004, Hindi with English subtitles
Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Gayatri, Music: A. R. Rahman, Director: Ashutosh Gowarikar
Yea! Another Shahrukh movie! This one is a bit heavy handed, but it is still thoroughly enjoyable with nice music sequences and the ever-charming SRK.

2004, South Korea, Korean with English subtitles
Director: Kang Je-gyu
Cast:Jang Dong-gun and Won Bin
Powerful story about two brothers who are forced into the South Korean army. Huge hit in Korea, it's a well-made film with lots of emotion & good acting.
Action/Drama, Hong Kong, Cantonese with English subtitles, Not rated
HK director Johnny To's latest film. Starring Aaron Kwok and Louis Koo (with fun cameos by Jordan Chan and Tony Leung Ka Fai), THROW DOWN is a moody story about a washed-up judo champion and the characters he meets. In true Johnny To style, this film is shot at night on the neon-lit back streets of Hong Kong and in dimly lit nightclubs and gaming parlors. Beautiful to look at, quirky in style and mood.
>> Read the SF Chronicle interview with Johnny To >> Nixflix review >> Official site
India, 2004, Hindi with English subtitles
Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Rani Mukherji, Director: Yash Chopra, Music: Madan Mohan
A big old fashioned Indian movie with the ever-charismatic Shah Rukh Khan. A nice cry-fest romance with beautiful cinematography, beautiful music, beautiful dance numbers, and beautiful Rani Mukherji who gives a good, serious performance as a fledgling lawyer. I'm not that impressed with the chemistry between SRK and Preity Zinta, but they're both good actors who are a joy to watch. Well worth a trip to the theater to see this one on the big screen, but get there early or you'll end up sitting in the second row like we did!
China, 2003, Mandarin with English subtitles
Directed by He Ping. Starring Jiang Wen, Kiichi Nakai, Wang Xueqi, Zhao Wei, Hasi Bagen, He Tao, Harrison Liu, Wang Deshun, Yang Haiquan, Yeerjiang Mahepushen and Zhou Yun
Y'know, the reviews of this one haven't been so great, but I saw it Friday and loved it. (Just the reason I don't read reviews before I see a movie). It's very Western in style with some cheesy special effects, but still quite fun with some exciting swordfights and battle sequences. If nothing else, worth seeing for Jiang Wen--as my partner says, any movie with Jiang Wen can't be all bad. And this movie is more all good than all bad. See it & make up your own mind.