“Dhobi Ghat,” Reviewed

“Dhobi Ghat,” Reviewed (photo)

Posted by on

There’s a throwaway scene late in “Dhobi Ghat” that has nearly nothing to do with the film’s story and yet sums up nearly all of the film’s considerable appeal when a photographer named Shai (Monica Dogra) has Munna, her dhobi Munna (Prateik) or laundry man, take her around the city of Mumbai where they stumble upon an empty fragrance store. The old man who mixes all his own scents tells the pair, “Now, it’s the machine age. People prefer bottled perfume” as they wander around his storefront.

You can practically smell his shop from the intimacy achieved in director Kiran Rao’s feature debut, though it should be noted that the film owes much to the mix of 16mm and Mini DV cameras that allow it to plunge deeply into the city and the lives of its denizens. “Dhobi Ghat” is neither a direct descendant of the neorealist cinema of Satyajit Ray or the slick confections that much of Bollywood is known for these days, instead finding itself, like its setting, caught in between eras where the beauty of past tradition is threatened by progress just as much as the traditions of the past threaten to prevent progress.

To that end, Rao doesn’t stray far from the formula for so many romantic dramas – Shai falls for an artist, Arun (Aamir Khan), who doesn’t return her affections while Munna clearly pines for her. But she also doesn’t cling tightly to it, resulting in a film that’s refreshingly loose, relaxed, and comfortable in knowing that the change going on around the characters is happening at the same speed as the camera can catch it, which is interesting enough.

It’s a considerable boon to the story since each of the characters are largely unmovable for a variety of reasons – Munna would like to be an actor, but despite his matinee idol looks, finds it impossible to change his social standing, which in turn makes him undesirable as anything but a friend to Shai, who has come to Mumbai on a retreat from her job in America as an investment banker and quickly becomes infatuated with Arun, a painter whose success artistically, and by extension financially, clearly is drawn from the pain on display in his work. His most serious relationship is with a handful of video diaries he finds in his apartment from the previous owner.

Naturally for a multi-stranded narrative as this, there are a bunch of loose ends, but that fringe is as necessary to the form of “Dhobi Ghat” as its fabric, meant to be a little shaggy in a city that constantly feels unsettled. The feeling is underlined by a minimalist, elegant score from “Brokeback Mountain” composer Gustavo Santaolalla that ultimately winds up being as prevalent as the bustle of the streets. As Arun says while holding up a glass to toast an art exhibit, “To Bombay, my muse, my whore, my beloved…,” which sounds a bit pretentious in context, but nonetheless encapsulates the diversity of emotions Rao is able to arouse right up to the film’s final minutes.

“Dhobi Ghat” is now open in limited release.

Watch More

Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

Posted by on

“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

Watch More

Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

Posted by on

He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

Watch More

Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

Posted by on
GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

Watch More
Powered by ZergNet