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Kung Fu Panda 2 Premiere At Westfield - Arrivals

Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges - Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges Kung Fu Panda 2 premiere at Westfield - Kung Fu Panda 2 premiere at Westfield - Arrivals Sunday 5th June 2011

Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges
Gurinder Chadha
Gurinder Chadha

It's A Wonderful Afterlife Review

Filmmaker Chadha is back with another uneven comedy, although unlike Bride & Prejudice, this isn't actually a Bollywood variation on the Frank Capra classic: it's a London farce about arranged marriage with a ghostly twist.

The widowed Mrs Sethi (Azmi) is worried that her slightly overweight daughter Roopi (Notay) will never find a husband. Every match she arranges turns Roopi down, which leads Mrs Sethi to react murderously. But now the ghosts (Khan, Bkaskar, Ross and Varrez) of her victims are offering to help in order to improve their chances of reincarnation. Fortunately, Roopi's childhood friend Murthy (Ramamurthy) is back in town and hugely eligible. Unfortunately, he's a detective looking for the killer.

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Paris, Je T'aime Review

One would like to think that there at least a few other cities in the world besides Paris that could have inspired a film as varied in the types of cinematic pleasure so ably delivered by the anthology piece Paris Je T'Aime -- but it seems unlikely. This isn't due to an unavailability of good stories or locations in many other great metropolises, but more because being able to dangle the possibility of shooting in Paris in front of the world's greatest directors is going to be so much more enticing. Also, there are few other cities besides Paris that come with such a powerful and multifarious wealth of preassociated images and emotions for both filmmaker and audience to both draw upon and react against. So what could have been a collection of short films with a few highs, several lows, and a lot of muddled in-betweens is in fact a remarkably and consistently imaginative body of work, practically giddy with energy, that only rarely touches the ground.

Project overseers Emmanuel Benbihy and Tristan Carné wanted to create a cinematic map of Paris, with each short film representing one of the city's 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods). They ended up with 18 films, none of them more than a few minutes long and directed by a glittering, international roster of filmmakers. While none of the films here are anything approaching masterpieces, hardly a one is in any way a chore to sit through, which has to be some sort of an accomplishment.

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Bend It Like Beckham Review

With preternatural good looks, a Spice Girl for a wife, and an uncanny ability to kick a soccer ball and make it land wherever he wants, David Beckham is one of the biggest stars of British sports. The soccer player was nice enough to lend his name to Bend It Like Beckham, a spirited, good-natured coming of age comedy that encompasses the immigrant experience, gender identity and family expectations with an engaging, natural ease.

The film follows Jesminder (Parminder K. Nagra), the child of Punjabi émigrés living in suburban London -- and one of Beckham's biggest fans. Posters of the footballer's exploits cover her walls, she wears his jersey when she plays soccer with the boys in the park, and she studies his moves during games on TV. But it's Jess's soccer skills that catch the eye of Juliette (Keira Knightley), who plays for a local women's soccer club. Jess finds herself recruited and suddenly realizes that soccer dreams of her own are not farfetched.

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What's Cooking? Review

Indian filmmaker Gurinder Chadha's feminine feast drama What's Cooking? serves up the ingredients for a potential tasty meal, but the remaining aftertaste leaves much to be desired. In the film, Chadha (Bhaji on the Beach) concocts a multi-ethnic, estrogen-driven drama that overextends itself to hysteria. The notion of profiling a broad range of distinctive, Los Angeles-based families preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday makes for an entertaining sociological premise, but Chandra's concentration on these culturally diverse women and their loved ones feels strained and contrived. She tries gallantly to fortify this film with her brand of cinematic seasoning, but the characters come off as a bunch of overdramatic caricatures going through the prototypical TV-movie-of-the-week antics. Consequently, What's Cooking? is a flavorless fable that is as hard to swallow as a piece of tough turkey.

The film's families consist of African-American, Asian, Jewish, and Hispanic protagonists, all exaggerated characters who weave in and out of hackneyed plots. From the Jewish perspective, there's the tongue-tied matriarch Seelig (Lainie Kazan) who has an annoyingly cute way of enunciating certain words. Ma Seelig is somewhat speechless when she eventually gets to meet her daughter Rachel's (Kyra Sedgwick) lesbian lover Carla (Julianna Margulies, late of television's ER). Then there's the Spanish viewpoint where an estranged couple, the Avilas (Mercedes Ruehl and Victor Rivers), are forced to reunite upon the insistence of their adult children. There's also obvious tension when Vietnamese Jimmy Nguyen (Will Yun Lee) dares to play footsies with Hispanic Gina Avilas (Isidra Vega). And the black family the Williamses (headed up by Alfre Woodard and Dennis Haysbert) has issues as well.

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Bride & Prejudice Review

What do you get when you mix a Bollywood musical with a Jane Austen classic? I'm not sure, but if you take a pretty generic romantic comedy and throw in some musical numbers, you'll get Bride and Prejudice, the latest film from Bend It Like Beckham co-writer/director Gurinder Chadha.

The premise is similar to Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Here the setting is moved to India, where the not-so-wealthy (but still rich enough to hire servants) Bakshi family resides in a less-than-touristy district. Mrs. Bakshi (Nadira Babbar) is desperate to marry off her daughters. They include Jaya (Namrata Shirodkar), who has eyes for lawyer Balraj (Lost's Naveen Andrews), and Lalita (Aishwarya Rai) who is interested in Balraj's American friend Will Darcy (Martin Henderson), until she actually bothers to talk to him.

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