Kate Beckinsale talks about Love & Friendship, where she stars as the brilliant, charming and manipulative Lady Susan Vernon. She is a widow in search of sound prospects for her daughter and herself. The film is based on a Jane Austen’s  epistolary novel called Lady Susan. This kind of novel is usually told via letters and diary entries, but in the hands of writer and director Whit Stillman the novel turns into a delightful & pithy film.

We spoke with Beckinsale during her visit to San Francisco International Film Festival about how she prepared for the role, working with Stillman and Tom Bennett, who acts in the film. Tune in to find out this about about Beckinsale’s next project.

Love and Friendship releases on May 20, 2016 in San Francisco Bay area.


The 59th San Francisco International Film Festival is underway from now till May 5, 2016. With over 170 films showing at the festival it is always a challenge to figure out what films to watch and invariably you end up missing some really good films. That is my constant dilemma during film festivals, but the important thing is they make it my radar and makes it to my list of films to watch.

Here is a list of films that I watched and liked them for various reasons. Some films delighted me, while others put me in a pensive mood and got me a bit dejected about our species and the way we live. Then there were films that had me completely absorbed and I came away learning something new and interesting.

This list is presented in no particular order: Morris From America, Indignation, Weiner, Love and Friendship, The Lobster, Maggie’s Plan, The Man Who Knew Infinity, Weiner, Our Kind of Traitor and Radio Dreams.  And here are some films I would like to see like Nuts, The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble, Thithi and Salero.

Let me confess that I may have missed out quite a few good films.



The 59th San Francisco International Film Festival starts today and continues till May 5, 2016. We sat down to speak with Rachel Rosen, director of programming at San Francisco Film Society to find out about the highlights of this year’s festival.

The opening night film today is director  Whit Stillman’s sharply funny film LOVE & FRIENDSHIP with Kate Beckinsale in the lead role. The film is based on a Jane Austen novel.

This year’s festival has are over 170 films that include features, shorts and documentaries. Guests at this year’s festival include Academy winner Tom McCarthy, Coen Brothers, Mira Nair, Kate Beckinsale, Whit Stillman, Stephen Fry and others.

For program and ticket information on the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival go here.


My Picks For SFIFF: T-Rex, Best of Enemies, Black Coal, Thin Ice, Bota and A Borrowed Identity

San Francisco International Film Festival

San Francisco International Film Festival

Film lovers are in for a wonderful treat at this year’s 58th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 23 -May 7, 2014). With so many terrific films it is always a  challenge to find out which ones to watch.

Here are five films from different genres and parts of the world that I enjoyed watching and came away learning something new about different societies, countries and the filmmakers themselves. The films I saw were two American, one each from China/Hong Kong, Albania and Israel. There are lots of other films  I want to watch and hope to catch them at the festival.

T-Rex,” is an inspirational documentary about 17 year old Clarrisa Shields journey to winning a gold medal at the Olympic Games. It was amazing to watch how Shields overcomes poverty, a damaged home and develop this inner determination to became an ace athlete to win a gold medal in women’s boxing.

Best of Enemies,” will appeal to news and political junkies or those simply curious to find out how this whole culture of political talk shows evolved on American television. The documentary takes you back to the 1968 election and the famous debate between William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal. Buckley was a well-known conservative thinker, writer and TV personality, while Vidal was a well-known liberal and a prolific writer. The documentary traces the importance and relevance of the debate and how it shaped Buckley and Vidal’s image of each other. I was rooted to my chair as I watched this documentary and the battle of wits between these two intellectual pundits. That era of Pandit TV in America has long gone is what you realize.

Black Coal , Thin Ice,” is a riveting film noir about a serial killer from Hong Kong/China. Through this dark  and intense thriller film we get to see a different side of China and Chinese society. This was the first time I watched a Chinese whodunit film and I could not have picked a better one to watch this genre of film. Diao Yinan, director and writer of the film apparently spent years working on the script that is tightly woven with lots of powerful and unexpected twists. Yinan’s film won the Golden Bear award at this year’s Berlin film festival.

Bota,” unfolds in slow sort of a way in a remote place, almost like a no-man’s land in Albania. You wonder what dreams and secrets are hidden and buried in this tiny place especially from its terrible dictatorship period? The film revolves around a cafe called Bota, which means the world in Albanian. On the surface the film might look simple and quirky, but by the end of the film you realize that is not the case. Life is nasty, brutish and short that famous line from Hobbes came to mind after I finished watching the film. And yet people learn to survive and create a world of dreams and aspirations. Sometimes they succeed, and at other times they don’t.

A Borrowed Identity,” from Israel is a film about a young and brilliant Arab student, who gets selected to attend “the best school ” in Israel. He is in fact the first Arab to be accepted in the school. We watch this  young student’s journey and how he learns to navigate his life as an Arab in this prestigious Israeli school and how it changes his life. This coming of age film raises lots of interesting questions on family, love, identity and politics. The film is based on Sayed Kashua’s book “Dancing Arabs.”

Watch this space for another post on the next installment of films I liked.
T-Rex Trailer














Our Obsession With Steve Jobs – “The Man In The Machine”

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

We are obsessed with Steve Jobs. We just can’t seem to get enough of him. There is a new book out about Jobs and two different films about the iconic Silicon Valley entrepreneur. This is not including the 2011 book by Walter Isaacson and the 2013 Hollywood film “Jobs,” with Ashton Kutcher that did not do well at the box-office.

Jobs” was the book Isaacson wrote with inputs from Jobs himself. The story goes that Jobs reached out to Isaacson to write this authorized biography. Released in 2011 right after Jobs passed away, the book became an instant hit. Folks made a beeline to buy the book, and so did I. This was the book to read to find out the story of Jobs, and his obsession with technology, fonts and his trip to India.

What we have come to learn since the publication of Isaacson’s book is that folks in Apple were not exactly happy with it. Earlier this year Sir Jonathan Ive had this to say in an interview with Ian Parker of the The New  Yorker magazine:

“In a later conversation, Ive said that he’d read only parts of the book, but had seen enough to dislike it, for what he called inaccuracies. “

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook seems to share Ive’s feelings about Isaacson’s book. This is what Cook says in a new book on Jobs, excerpts of which were published in Fortune.

“I thought the Isaacson book did him a tremendous disservice,” says  Cook, speaking out three years later. “It was just a rehash of a bunch of stuff that had already been written, and focused on small parts of his personality.”

So, now there is a new book on Jobs with inputs from key people in Apple and Laurene Powell-Jobs. “Becoming Steve Jobs,” by Rick Tetzeli and  Brent Schlender was released last month. You can read reviews of the book here and here.

Besides this new book there are two new films on Jobs. The first is a film by Academy Award winner Danny Boyle who just wrapped up the shooting of the film in San Francisco bay area. Boyle’s film is due to release by the end of this year. The film stars Michael Fassbender, Seth Rogen, Kate Winselet and others. The film is based on  Isaacson’s biography on Jobs.

Then there is a new documentary by Alex Gibney called “Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine,” that made its debut at South By South West earlier this year. This film looks at Jobs with a critical eye at his leadership and legacy.

Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine,” has created quite a bit of buzz here in San Francisco bay area. It is the opening night film for the 58th San Francisco International Film Festival, where Gibney will be in attendance. This is the film I am looking forward. What new dimensions of Jobs will we discover in this film? Jobs changed our world and how we experience the world in so many different ways. But, how did he do that? Perhaps that is what this film is about. I don’t know. I will find out tomorrow when I watch the film.

And one more thing – if  you want to see every Steve Jobs video there is a YouTube channel for that. Here is a candid interview with Jobs on his legacy from a 1994 interview.

 Photo: Jon Snyder/



“Kinky and cofounding,” is how this film is described. “It is obscene” says Isabella Rossellini in the the video clip embedded at the end of this post. It is a “fun romp,” says  Noah Cowan, Executive Director of San Francisco Film Society. Now, don’t jump to conclusions. This “kinky and confounding” and “fun romp” is a well-known series of short films and now made into a film with Rossellini donning different avatars. But, it is not about what you are thinking. Continue reading