Sinbad Alibaba and Aladdin (Review)

Sinbad Alibaba and Aladdin

aka Sinbad Alibaba Aur Aladin
Sindbad Ali Baba Aladdin movie
1965
Scenario and dialogue by Tabish Sultanpuri
Directed by Prem Narayan Arora (as P. N. Arora)


All India Pictures brings us Sindbad Alibaba and Aladdin! It’s got big stars, it has big effects, it has big costumes, it has big musical numbers, and it has a big not-Godzilla! Okay, maybe a few of the stars were past their prime and the Bootleg Godzilla looks goofy and isn’t in the film nearly as much as it should be, but still, there is a lot to love.

(I’m going to spell “Sinbad” both ways in this article, so deal with it!)
Sindbad Ali Baba Aladdin movie
Give whoever was in charge of the special effects a raise as they went right to the source, enlisting Keiji Kawakami and Seishiro Ishi from Tsuburaya special effects. That might be about as close as we’ll get to an actual Indian Godzilla film unless the long-lost Gogola is uncovered somewhere!

Sindbad Alibaba and Aladdin only seems available in unsubtitled vcds of what look like VHS rips with gigantic video company logos. Meemsab had Ultra Video Company, while my copy has Kamal Video plastered on the top left. Kamal Video also had a brief musical logo in the beginning featuring some soft jazz saxophone that would be at home in an early 90s softcore sex scene. They even forgot to cut out the logo of the VHS company that they got the VHS tapes they used to make this vcd from near the end of the film. Oops! Now we know why the watermarks keep getting bigger, they are covering other watermarks!
Sindbad Ali Baba Aladdin movie

Sinbad (Pradeep Kumar) – Sinbad is the heroic type in this film, while Aladdin and Alibaba both play the goofy sidekicks who are actually co-leads. Pradeep Kumar started acting in Bengali films and had moved to Hindu films by the 1950s, where he found success as a lead for a few years. By the 60s his star had begun to fade and he was doing more B-level movies like this one. By the late 60s he had turned to character acting and some good roles through the 80s. He died in 2001.
Alibaba (Master Baghwan) – One of the two comedic members of the trio, Alibaba is sort of in between the heroic role and the comedic role. He sort of gets a girl with the mysterious Jungle Girl, but she’s barely in the film. Bhagwan Dada was a working class son who dreamed of movies, eventually making his own low budget stunt films during the silent era of the 1930s. He moved on from that to starring in pictures in the 40s, by the 50s he was producing mainstream pictures and had early success (and spent his money accordingly), but eventually a string of failures caused him to have to sell his enormous mansion and seven cars (one for each day of the week), and by the 1960s he was doing B-level pictures like this one. He died in 2002.
Aladdin (Agha) – Aladdin is the other comedic member of the trio, but he’s the one who both Sinbad and Alibaba consider to be their comedic sidekick, hence him getting abandoned while drunk and sold into slavery. Whoops! But at least he does find a genie to love and save the day. Agha was a comedic actor who styled himself after Bob Hope’s comedy (very evident here!) He first got roles in the 30s and was very active from the 30s to the 50s. By the 60s he had started to slow down a bit, though he still had time to do some B-level movies like this one. He died in 1992.
Princess Jameela (Sayeeda Khan) – Sinbad’s love and the daughter of the Sultan, problem is everyone wants the princess either as a marriage partner for power or for lust reasons, so she’s constantly getting saved by Sinbad. Sayeeda Khan lived a tragic life, she got her career doing lower grade movies usually in supporting roles with occasional larger ones like this, but never broke into the big time. In 1990 her and her daughter Namrata were murdered (and her 20 year old son, actor Kamal Sadanah, wounded) by her filmmaker husband, Brij Sadanah, before he killed himself.
Genie (Helen) – Aladdin falls in love with the lovely lady of the lamp, Genie, who grants wishes to whoever controls the lamp. She also has a sense of humor, putting people in goofy situations. A great help to the heroes. Helen also pops up in Trip To Moon and Return of Mr. Superman
Bootleg Godzilla (Himself) – Totally not Godzilla shows up to shoot flames and try to make friends only to get stabbed in the eye because people sometimes just aren’t worth the effort. But let’s not blame poor Bootleg Godzilla, it isn’t his fault mankind has issues…

Sindbad Ali Baba Aladdin movie
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - May 7, 2018 at 7:18 am

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Manhunt (Review)

Manhunt

aka 追捕
Manhunt
2017
Script by Lip Wang-Fung, Gordon Chan Ka-Seung, and James Yuen Sai-Sang
Based on the book Kimiyo Funno no Kawa wo Watari by Juko Nishimura
Directed by John Woo

Manhunt
John Woo returns to the world of action cinema to show us that he still….uh…he still can make a movie? With some action scenes? That’s about it, because Manhunt is decisively not in the tradition of classic John Woo action and is more in the tradition of ridiculous scenes wrapped around an overly complicated plot. So basically it’s like a benchwarmer Hong Kong action flick. It isn’t terrible, but it’s like Gordon Ramsey making you waffles and they taste worse than McDonalds. Part of the problem might be that this is a big coproduction between China and NetFlix, packed with a great cast who get parts that are either wasted or follow trajectories that we already know their outcome. Tragically, some of theme don’t even get to ham it up before they buy the farm!

Lawyer Du Qiu (Zhang Han-Yu) , the best lawyer in all of Japan, is leaving his cushy job at a pharmaceutical mega-conglomerate for another position. But the pharmaceutical company is up to no good, and before Du Qiu can move to Bel Air, he’s framed for murder and is on the run! Don’t worry, there is also a super duper detective named Satoshi Yamura (Masaharu Fukuyama ), who is hot on Du Qiu’s trail despite figuring out that Du Qiu is innocent and there is a bigger story at play. Hey, he’s still got to do his job! Du Qui and Yamura’s disagreement on whether Du should be sitting in a cell while they sort out what is what causes the crux of a lot of action sequences, as Du Qui manages to escape large police pursuits again and again. Toss in a mysterious woman (Stephy Qi Wei as Mayumi) whose almost husband used to work for the villainous megacorp (and was later killed on their wedding day after losing a big case thanks do Du when he tried to stop what was going on) and Ha Jiwon and John Woo’s daughter Angeles Woo as two female assassins who randomly show up to shoot everyone (when Ha Jiwon and Du aren’t talking about old movies), and you got a film that can’t find its focus. This is before it suddenly goes all Marvel. But more on that is spoiling things…
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 26, 2018 at 7:43 am

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Claire’s Camera (Review)

Claire’s Camera

aka La Caméra de Claire
Claire's Camera
2017
Written and directed by Hong Sang-soo
Claire's Camera
Hong Sang-soo continues to be an unstoppable movie-making machine, and with Claire’s Camera he continues his streak of producing high quality, entertaining films quickly and distinctively. I immediately pounced when I saw this was screening in this year’s SFIFF, but luckily had I missed it, 4-Star started screening it soon after. Which means I’ll have to make it up to 4-Star by seeing a different film there, no big deal as I don’t mind heading over there at all.

Like On the Beach at Night Alone, Claire’s Camera deals with the results of an affair involving a director, braiding the ropes of reality and fiction of his real life affair with Kim Min-hee into more artistic output. While On the Beach at Night Alone dealt more with the feminine side of a scandal and had a cathartic scene of confrontation, Claire’s Camera is more directly abstract, crystallizing the differences of before and after incidents. Some might argue that Hong is mining the same themes far too often, but he’s handling it in unique ways each time and so many other relationship films deal with similar themes, so hold all criticisms until things start actually getting stale.

Jeon Manhee (Kim Min-hee) is a buyer for films, in France along with the production company she works at, as one of their clients, Director So Wansoo (Jung Jin-young) is screening a film. She meets her boss at a cafe, where the boss Nam Yanghye (Chang Mi-hee) forces her to quit, explaining she no longer has trust in her to do the right thing. This gives Manhee time to wander around France, as she decides to spend a few days in town before heading back to South Korea. Later we learn that the director had an affair with her, and that Nam Yanghye is basically in a relationship with him, explaining the motivations.
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 25, 2018 at 7:42 am

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Revenge (Review)

Revenge

Revenge
2017
Written and directed by Coralie Fargeat
Revenge
Let’s get one thing straight from the get go, Revenge is a rape and revenge movie patterned after the old school exploitation flicks. But it’s also a major deconstruction of the genre, twisting tropes and incorporating aspects from super hero movies (and some of their tropes as well!) Most importantly, it is a fun as heck movie despite the subject matter and was a great choice for a SFIFF viewing pick!

Revenge is a startlingly beautiful film, with cinematography for days, vivid colors, neon that burns through with a beautiful but neutral enough Moroccan desert environment to make things aesthetic but not distracting. It’s full of shots that will be popping up on tumblr as gifs when there is a proper release. It is loaded with plenty of imagery for subtext including an apple with a bite taken out of it (often looked back on as the apple slowly decays) as well as rebirth imagery including a phoenix image the features prominently in a memorable scene during a peyote-induced fever dream. It’s well paced, the only sequences that seem to go on too long are purposefully designed that way for suspense or to foster a general sense of uneasiness. Beyond that, things fly by to keep the action steady. Even with all that Revenge is trying to say, it keeps the story on track so you don’t feel bogged down. Exactly the kind of movie that will lead to new discoveries on rewatches, as you were too busy having fun the first time through to notice some of the smaller details. There’s even a great argument for keeping wires on your earbuds!
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 24, 2018 at 7:41 am

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Searching (Review)

Searching

Searching
2018
Written by Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian
Directed by Aneesh Chaganty

Searching
It’s San Francisco International Film Festival time again, and TarsTarkas.NET is back with more SFIFF reviews thanks to our powerful influence to buy tickets! First up is what was my favorite of the films I saw this year, a film that is visualized entirely using computer screens and surveillance videos. Searching utilizes its visual gimmick very well in telling the story of a father looking for his missing daughter. We go down a deep dive of building a story around a family that has a large digital footprint, learn about their hopes and loses (including the mother dying of cancer), and come to modern day with father David Kim (John Cho) and daughter Margot (Michelle La), both still a mess after the death of their wife/mother, Pamela (Sara Sohn).

Margot is in high school and off at a study group, which she tells her father via facetime will go on all night. He gently reminds her again that she forgot to take out the trash before calling it a night. He misses a few calls from her overnight, and awakens in the morning to be annoyed that she still hasn’t taken out the trash and thinks she left early for school. During work he starts getting worried that she isn’t responding to his texts, thinking she is mad at him, but soon realizes she left her school laptop at home and never arrived at school. Thus begins a frantic search to find out where she went, what happened to her, and what has been going on in her life while both of them have been too saddened by Pamela’s death to stay connected. Detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) becomes David’s point of contact with the police, and the two start trying to construct a timeline of where Margot was and what she likes to do, with David realizing with increasing horror he doesn’t know anything about Margot’s life any more.

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 23, 2018 at 7:39 am

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Goldbuster (Review)

Goldbuster

aka 妖鈴鈴 aka Yao Ling Ling
Goldbuster
2017
Written by Cha Muchun, Wong Yee-Hing, Zhou Yunhai
Directed by Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu

Goldbuster
Despite the movie being called Goldbuster, no ghosts are defeated by beating them with a gold bar. Sorry to disappoint. The directorial debut of comedian Sandra Ng tries to invoke the spirit of Hong Kong comedies past, and nearly succeeds with some good sequences and plot (and genre!) twists. It doesn’t quite come all the way together into a satisfying result, but there are enough bits of goodness floating around in the soup to give you some nice slurps.

The complete transformation of China in the past 20 years where cities are constantly churning out new high rises and modern developments haven’t been without a cost. There are plenty of scandals with land deals, holdout tenants, holdout owners, nail houses that are just build around and stripped of all amenities. Goldbuster jumps right into this with the last few tenants in an apartment building scheduled to be demolished refuse to leave.

The tenants include a widowed doctor who wishes that the ghost of his dead wife would appear so he could apologize for misdiagnosing her, and his young son who hasn’t spoken since she died. There is also a camgirl and failed actress who constantly wears bright outfits that stand out from the dull tones all around her. There are a pair of former Triads who have been hiding out from people trying to kill them for so long they’ve grown old and forgotten (and one believes he is some sort of deep cover cop), and there is a husband and wife who mismanaged their personal businesses and have nothing left. They’ve formed sort of a family by having nowhere else to go.
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - March 30, 2018 at 7:25 am

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