Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Earlier this year, we introduced you to an Indian artist named Vijay Singh.  For decades, he painted the bright, larger-than-life murals that showcased current attractions in Delhi’s old Bollywood movie theaters.  But when digital printing recently put him out of a job, he had to find new patrons for his movie-mural artistry.  Now he’s part of an emerging niche market for ex-pats who want to get in on the over-the-top romance and action of Bollywood flicks: custom movie posters.

Turns out the talents of artists like Singh have been snatched up by CB2 – the younger, hipper offshoot of home décor staple Crate and Barrel.  “In an effort to keep this art-form alive,” the company offered “limited-edition, signed paintings … on cotton canvas in a wash of colors ranging from henna to river mud.”

Alas, it appears “world map painting: brave new (old) world” has sold out – Bollywood muralists like Singh have clearly gone global.

– Jenny Lawton

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Hollywood is no stranger to stories of Wall Street: from references to the Depression in the classic Gold Diggers, to botched commodities trading in 1983’s Trading Places, to Oliver Stone’s Wall Street 2, due out later this year.  Now it seems investors are returning the favor, looking to Hollywood for a new kind of investment opportunity.

Today the Commodities Futures Trading Commission may approve the first exchange tied to the performance of films.  Other Hollywood-based exchanges are lined up to follow.  If approved, these exchanges would allow investors to speculate on box office returns.  Essentially, a film would be issued as a commodity at a certain price, based on its expected financial performance.  If investors think the movie will do better than that price, they can buy in.  If they think the movie will flop, they can short sell, driving the price down.

Hollywood Stock Exchange - MovieStocks

The financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald already offers an online game called the Hollywood Stock Exchange, in which players can wager fake money on Movie Funds, TV Stocks, and Starbonds (Mickey Rourke is currently trading at $54.08, William Shatner at $46.78).

Cantor’s real Hollywood exchange is set to launch later this month. But not everyone is pleased.  Film studios are lobbying Congress to stop the exchanges.  And business columnist Steven Pearlstein fears that the exchange would be “an obvious invitation to trading with insider information, allowing those who are actually producing a movie to bet on its outcome against outsiders who have never read the script, reviewed the dailies or seen the marketing budget.”  Even a well-made, profitable movie could become a financial liability if it’s not quite profitable enough to meet investors’ expectations.  And those same expectations could go a long way in determining the types of movies that are produced, and how they are distributed.

We’ve already seen what speculation and “inventive” financial practices can do to the economy.  If they spread to movies, the result might not be so entertaining.

– Michael Guerriero

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Like most people, I wanted to be a magician when I grew up. I recently attended a screening of the 2007 Swedish film You, The Living (Du levande) by director Roy Andersson, a funny/sad movie made up of 50 vignettes that portray everyday life as absurd, petty, and hilarious. In the following scene, a man tries to enliven a family reunion by performing the tablecloth trick.

Which, of course, led to the question: How do you perform the tablecloth trick for real? Have I seen it performed anywhere but in cartoons? Is it even possible?

A quick YouTube search settled any doubts. Here is the answer–a small feat of classroom heroism performed by a nervous looking young man in an uncomfortable outfit.

The cheering! The vindication! The glory!

So how is it done? Could one perform this trick in defiance of one’s own imperfection and discomfort? Elsewhere on YouTube, a guru named Zanthor provides instructions. (Not recommended: searching for other videos of Zanthor. Magic’s romance quickly fades.) Looks pretty easy, actually. Too bad we don’t have any tables with right angles in the office, or I’d try it out right now. There’s even a vase full of fresh flowers within easy reach…

–Matt Frassica

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Back in 2006, I declared my love for Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal on our radio show. He was just starring in his first English role, and I was afraid he would be catapulted from indie brilliance into mainstream cheesiness, much in the way of Antonio Banderas. I’m thrilled that three years later, Bernal is still starring in Mexican films, and remains unafraid to portray characters in awkward, less-than-flattering situations.  Witness this music video.  It’s from the new movie Rudo y Cursi, where Bernal plays a soccer star who longs to be a norteño singer. (His talent only lies with the former.) This is his performance of “Quiero Que Me Quieras,” aka Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me.”

Rudo y Cursi is a somewhat predictable rags-to-riches fable, but the soundtrack (out May 19) is actually full of refreshing alt-Latin tunes that are sung on-key. One is by Bostich and Fussible of the electronica-meets-folk group Nortec Collective, whom Kurt interviewed last week. ¡Viva México!

– Leital Molad

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photo credit: Dan in LA/flickr

photo credit: Dan in LA/flickr

Attending the Oscar ceremony last night, I realized why the pre-show red-carpet rigmarole has become more and more a focus of the television coverage over the last decade or so: that’s the juiciest part of the quasi-official event, a reality-show The Day of the Locust without the apocalyptic ending.

First there’s the arrival by car through a half-mile-long cordon sanitaire enforced by scores of LAPD officers and quasi-military LAPD vehicles, crawling at a few miles per hour past roped-back hundreds of noisy citizens. (The printed Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences instructions noted that limousines longer than 39 feet could not be accommodated.)

A few of the citizens were waving vicious you-Hollywood-people-are-damned signs. But most of them were just celebrity-besotted bystanders eager to be in the proximity of the spectacle, and to gawk. (Like me, in other words, but without tickets.) I also spotted an FBI agent among the police, and wondered: why? The slow-mo mob walk up the red carpet was entertaining; I felt as if I’d stepped through the looking glass — or, rather, through the TV screen. No one asked me who I was wearing; I would’ve been obliged to answer, “Armani circa 1993 for the jacket, Men’s Warehouse 2009 for the pants.”

As splendidly and inventively staged as the show inside the theater was, the audience scene there, despite the strictly black-tie costuming, isn’t exactly thrilling. The celebrity ratio is low. A friend, like me a first-time attendee, remarked that it felt to him like “New Jersey prom night.” And by the way? Waltz With Bashir was robbed.

The party thrown afterward by Vanity Fair at an old hotel on Sunset Boulevard, however, was astoundingly glamorous, like a Hollywood party as portrayed in a Hollywood movie. In general I disapprove of name-dropping, but what choice do I have? In a space no larger than my house I walked and stood within a few feet of Amy Adams, Judd Apatow, Jason Bateman, Halle Berry, Danny Boyle, Larry David, Robert Downey Jr., John Hamm, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Debra Messing, Rupert Murdoch, Natalie Portman, Seth Rogen, Ben Stiller, Meryl Streep, Tilda Swinton, Uma Thurman and, according to my wife, the young male stars of Twilight and The 300.

Having absolutely gorged on glitz for 10 hours, I am now exhausted, and feel as if I should retreat to a monastery for several weeks. Or at least read Henry James and take a nap.

– Kurt Andersen

Header photo credit: sanjoyg/flickr

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