Come summer holidays and it's movie time. Internet resources now allow you to look beyond the hype and size up films at the click of the mouse, before spending your money.
THE ANCIENT Latin warning `caveat emptor' (buyer beware) is nowhere more apt than the world of cinema. Summer is the time when distributors line up their biggest products, with high-pressure print and television campaigns, to persuade you to view their latest `blockbuster'. These days, an evening's `filmi' entertainment for two can set you back over Rs. 100 so it's good to size up the choices before deciding on what you want to see.
Thanks to the Internet, you now have some independent sources of information to satisfy both the casual cinemagoer as well as the hardcore film freak. If you like to read a cross section of reviews of an English language film to help you decide, the best site is www.rottentomatoes.com, where sometimes over a 100 reviews of new releases are featured. There is a "tomato meter" at the top of the page, which grades the ratings received by the film from critics.
If you like to plan ahead and would like to know the Hollywood products due to be released over the rest of the year, check out www.movieweb.com, which gives week-by-week information almost a year in advance. The archives cover the last five years and each entry includes a brief plot summary, cast listing, a collection of downloadable stills and a link to the official website of the movie.
For hard-core information about the U.S. film industry, the best resource is www. hollywoodreporter.com. Unlike Internet editions of journals like "Variety", the "Hollywood Reporter" provides free access to most of its content. And parents, whose children like to see Hollywood films, can bookmark the web page www.screenit.com, which provides parental guidance and screening of every film released in the U.S. Students of cinema often like to study the full script of a film but few studios will share this at their fan sites since copyright issues are involved. The most comprehensive collection of film scripts seems to be the site created by Bjorn Erik Hundland at the site www.movie-page.com. The collection of nearly 600 scripts includes many first drafts, revisions and shooting versions which professionals will find useful. The same page also contains a link to a massive collection of film posters.
If you want official and authentic information about any film in virtually any language, there is the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) . A search for a film like "Lagaan" will show the full cast and credits as well as links to some unusual reviews in the foreign media.
If your taste is Bollywood, then there are three sites, which could be worth Internet time. The site, www.indiafm.com, provides early reviews of recent Hindi films, complete with stills and credits. Also included are the brief synopses of forthcoming releases and a huge collection of soundtrack reviews, as well as star interviews and trade information. The `preview' feature provides the storyline and cast well in advance, complete with music clips and downloadable wallpapers and screensavers.
Why www.planetbollywood.com scores are due to the information it provides on film launches, `mahurat' functions and on-the-set reviews... an interesting resource for hardcore Bollywood fans who like to keep themselves abreast with Ram Gopal Varma's next project or Kajol's next film with Ajay Devgan.
For star fans, www.glamsham.com is the ideal site. A huge collection of photos, biographies and screensavers, along with information on the new releases can be found on the site. One interesting concept here is the calendars, which are updated every month so if you want an Aishwarya Rai wallpaper on your desktop together with the calendar for the month, this is the site to visit. Also included are music reviews and "top ten" listings of films and soundtracks.
Another useful web resource for India-based film fans, particularly of South Indian Cinema is hansazone.com. One of the most useful features at this site is the Movie locator that allows one to find out what films are playing at the cinema halls in the neighbourhood. The list of cinema houses covered runs into several hundreds.
For information specific to Tamil Cinema there are plenty of Chennai-based resources.
But the msn.co.in site has also started a Tamizh Cinema section that merits a look. Armed with all the info you need? Let the movie masti begin.
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