All He Had Was a Slingshot and Itchy Feet  

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Mehreen Jabbar’s lyrical film “Ramchand Pakistani” tells the story of an 8-year-old Pakistani Hindu boy who accidentally strays across the border with India and is immediately seized by Indian soldiers. Based on a true story, it begins in 2002 during a period of extreme tension between Pakistan and India and explores what can happen to innocents caught up in geopolitical crossfire.

When the soldiers discover that the boy, Ramchand (Syed Fazal Hussain), is carrying a slingshot, he is accused of bringing weapons to liberate Kashmir. He and his parents — his mother, Champa (Nandita Das), and father, Shankar (Rashid Farooqui) — belong to the “untouchable” Dalit caste. When Shankar searches for Ramchand, he too crosses the border, marked only by an arc of widely separated white stones, and is immediately snatched by the same soldiers. The father and son are carted off to a prison, where they are kept for five years.

The film, which has six screenings at the Museum of Modern Art, beginning on Wednesday, as part of its ContemporAsian series, is not the prison horror story that it at first appears to be. There is no torture or starvation in the camp, where the father and son sleep on the floor of a crowded dormitory and do menial chores. The daily diet consists of lentils and potatoes.

The movie crosscuts between scenes of the father and son in prison and of Champa struggling to survive alone without word of her family. During much of their stay in India, Ramchand and Shankar are unregistered prisoners, so they might as well be dead. Champa eventually gives up hope of a reunion, and late in the movie she carries on a discreet flirtation with a man of a higher caste that brings its own kind of trouble.
At the military encampment, Ramchand becomes the servant of a female military official of a higher caste who, to the boy’s chagrin, treats him disdainfully. But over the years a bond develops between them, and she eventually bestows a peck on his cheek. Suddenly, the story leaps ahead four years, and the pubescent Ramchand is played by a different actor (Navaid Jabbar).

“Ramchand Pakistani” has elements of a Bollywood film, but the short, festive musical interludes are not full-scale production numbers. The flute-based music is quietly seductive and lulling, and the cinematography lends the desert landscape a hallucinatory beauty.

The loose-jointed screenplay by Javed Jabbar and Mohammad Ahmed doesn’t build up conventional dramatic tension and makes eccentric narrative leaps that undercut its continuity. Ms. Jabbar’s female perspective is palpable throughout the film, especially in the scenes in which Champa stands up to her exploitative bosses on the farm where she harvests wheat and sugar cane and demands money that is due her. The prison environment, in spite of its hardships, is remarkably harmonious. Fights break out but are settled, and the punishments meted out are mild.

The co-existence of Muslims and Hindus in the same prison is for the most part peaceful, and the Hindu caste system is relaxed. As the production notes state, Ramchand and his parents live at “the bottom of a discriminatory religious ladder and an insensitive social system, which is nevertheless tolerant, inclusive and pluralistic.” For all the trials its characters endure, you might almost describe “Ramchand Pakistani” as a happy movie: too happy to be entirely believed.

A ‘Wire’ Star Redirects His Electricity  

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IDRIS ELBA is a businessman. In fact, he might remind viewers of Stringer Bell, the no-nonsense Baltimore drug lord Mr. Elba memorably played on the HBO series “The Wire.” “You got to think about what we got in this game for,” Stringer once admonished a colleague, his soft, deep voice studded with emphatic profanity (here deleted): “Was it the rep? Was it so our names could ring out on some ghetto street corner? Naw, man. There’s games beyond the game.”

Though in real life Mr. Elba’s jaunty accent comes from East London, not Baltimore, in a phone interview from his Florida home he sounded much like the driven Stringer, who ran heroin-distribution meetings according to Robert’s Rules of Order. Stringer had no interest in cred-building gangster posturing, and Mr. Elba has little patience for the actor’s equivalent: endless prattling about art and the corresponding reluctance to speak frankly about one’s own ambitions.

Idris Elba is in the Idris Elba business. And he seems as interested in talking about the game beyond the game — the step-by-step process of becoming a star — as he is in talking about the action comedy “The Losers,” out on Friday.

“In this day and age, actors can’t afford to be pompous,” the 37-year-old Mr. Elba said, discussing a career that first caught fire with “The Wire” and peaked with last year’s popular but critically reviled potboiler “Obsessed.” “You can’t afford to turn your nose up at things. Audiences want to see you a bit more dynamic. We know you can act, Daniel Day-Lewis. That’s fantastic. Show us a bit more. We want to be entertained.”
Though Mr. Elba’s early career — he was a stage and television journeyman in London and New York — received a huge boost from “The Wire,” he has expressed discomfort with it, saying he didn’t watch many episodes and hopes not to play a drug dealer again. “It was a gift and a curse,” he says now.

He was surprised when Stringer was — spoiler alert from 2004! — killed off but says the timing aided his move to films. “I died on that show at a time where people were interested in my character,” he said, comparing himself to another actor and his signature HBO role. “If Tony Soprano had died in the fourth season, James Gandolfini would be a bigger actor than he is now.”

The Secret in Their Eyes  

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The past continually forces its way into the present in “The Secret in Their Eyes,” an attractive, messy drama riddled with violence and edged with comedy that comes with a hint of Grand Guignol, a suggestion of politics and three resonant, deeply appealing performances. Set primarily in contemporary Argentina with intermittent flashbacks to the 1970s when the country was descending into a military dictatorship, the film is by turns a whodunit (and why), a romance and something of a ghost story. A young dead woman lies at the center of the mystery, but she’s scarcely the only thing here haunting the living.
If it takes a while to get a handle on the identity of the dead woman, it’s because she’s initially conjured up in the imagination of Benjamin (Ricardo Darín), a former court investigator. Now retired, Benjamin first encountered the woman years earlier at her home, where her naked body, as is too often true of movie corpses, was decoratively arranged on her death bed. The culprit, at least when it comes to aestheticizing this particular horror, is the writer and director Juan José Campanella, who has a tendency to gild every lily, even a dead one. That inclination explains some of the film’s sudden shifts in mood and outlandish plot twists, both of which can be preposterous but also create tension, surprise and a sense of disquiet that borders on dread.

Benjamin, having decided to write about the dead woman, revisits her murder, a pursuit that leads from the typed page into the offices of a judge and former colleague, Irene (Soledad Villamil). A quarter-century ago, Irene was his much younger supervisor, toiling with him in a warren of book-lined, paper-strewn rooms alongside a boozing, desperate clown, Sandoval (Guillermo Francella). Together the three tried to navigate around a bigger boss, a jaundiced judge, and through a system where the poor were railroaded for crimes they didn’t commit so they could serve the needs of the powerful. One such crime involves the dead woman.
At first, the murdered woman — or rather how Benjamin’s inquiry into her death affects him — brings to mind Otto Preminger’s “Laura.” In that 1944 noir, Dana Andrews plays a detective who, while investigating what he believes is the murder of the title character (Gene Tierney, a natural stiff), falls in love with the victim, or rather her portrait. Benjamin doesn’t fall in love with his dead woman, though the way he looks at her corpse and then her photographs suggests more than he can admit. But this long-gone woman seems to exert a hold on him, possessing him while he pecks out another page, as the camera crawls through the shadows and Mr. Campanella pokes into the past.

Larry King's Wife: He Cheated With My Sister!  

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Aging CNN talk-show legend Larry King is in the doghouse after explosive allegations surfaced that he bedded the beautiful younger sister of his wife of 13 years.

King, 76, filed for divorce from his seventh wife, Shawn Southwick, 50, in a Los Angeles court yesterday in the wake of the eye-popping allegations. It's the suspenders-wearing chatmeister's eighth trip to splitsville, as he divorced one of his wives twice.

Southwick filed for a split the same day. Both cited "irreconcilable differences."
Sources said the pair fought bitterly for years over her belief that King was sleeping with Shawn's younger sister, Shannon Engemann, 46.

King spent $1 million on Engemann and lavished her with gifts, including a $160,000 car, sparking Southwick's ire, according to Radar Online.

But Engemann, a model and voiceover actress, denied any romance. "It's just ludicrous, really," she told The Post. "Larry's been a good friend and he's been like a father to me."

She said "there's a lot of other things wrong" in her sister's marriage, "and all of a sudden, it's my fault . . . Now this is just crazy."

Radar and the National Enquirer both reported that Southwick has carried on a torrid yearlong affair with her kids' baseball coach. She's denied it.

The constant warring between Larry and Southwick got so intense, it erupted into a slap-fest outside a Beverly Hills restaurant on Feb. 7, Radar reported.

But as accusations over philandering grew more heated, King signed over real estate -- including a Beverly Hills mansion -- to Southwick to show his commitment to the marriage, reported.

"We're not commenting on that," Howard Rubenstein, a spokesman for King, said of the cheating allegations.
King has not only married a slew of beauties, he's dated a few, too, including actresses Angie Dickinson and Deanna Lund and ex-beauty queen Rama Fox.

King and Southwick got hitched in a hospital room in 1997 before he went under the knife to clear a clogged blood vessel.

The talk titan and Brooklyn native wants joint custody of their sons, 11 and 9.
"His major concern is the welfare of his children," said Rubenstein.

Former "Dynasty" Actor dies of Septicemia  

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British actor Christopher Cazenove, best known for his role as Ben Carrington in the glitzy US soap "Dynasty", died last April 7 of septicemia which he acquired during the end of February. He is the second Dynasty star to die in the past week.
Background search information on septicemia shows it as a life threatening infection that can arise from infections throughout the body. It begins with spiking fevers, chills, rapid breathing and rapid heart rate. The said symptoms quickly progresses to a shock with fever or hypothermia, falling blood pressure, confusion and other changes affecting the mentality of the person. In addition it also develops blood clotting problems that lead to petechiae and ecchymosis, a type of red spots on the skin.
According to Cazenove's family, he died peacefully surrounded by loved ones after a valiant fight and the untiring effort of the team of St. Thomas' Hospital in London. This is events that find people who knew him devastated by the loss.
Cazenove was married for over 20 years to actress Angharad Rees. They had two sons; however, according to background checking conducted, the eldest died in a car accident in 1999 at the age of 25.
His mini-series that brought him to fame was "the Duchess of duke Street". He since then appeared in screen, stage and on radio. It was however his role in Dynasty that he was more known starring with John Forsythe who played his brother in the series, Blake Carrington. Public records show Forsythe died last April 1 of this year, ahead of Cazenove, at the age of 92 after a yearlong battle with cancer.

Tiger Woods, at the Virtual Tee First  

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The first time I met Tiger Woods, in 2005, I was shocked to find myself talking to a real person.

Standing in a deserted Sheep Meadow in Central Park, he waved off his handful of P.R. people, and we spent about 15 minutes just talking about video games. Personable, gregarious and altogether down to earth, he lighted up as he told me how much he enjoyed the Socom special forces games because his father had been a soldier.

The second time I met Tiger Woods, last June, I couldn’t find that guy. Sitting in the atrium of the Nike Store on 57th Street with cameras and handlers and microphones everywhere, he looked me straight in the eye and told me that sadly he didn’t play video games much any more because he was too busy spending time with his wife and children.

I bought it, just as millions of people around the world bought into the image he was selling. Over the years something changed.
What has not changed is that Tiger Woods is still the best golfer on the planet, and that appears to be all that matters to Electronic Arts, as the company prepares to release Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online on Tuesday.
Accenture and Gatorade have dropped him, and you don’t even see Nike, which has stood by him, promoting a new line of Tiger Woods products this week as he returns to professional golf at the Masters. But Electronic Arts, with voluminous market research on its side, has determined that the 40-year-old male office worker and golfer who is the target consumer for Tiger Woods Online simply does not care about Mr. Woods’s serial infidelity — or doesn’t care enough that the drumbeat of tawdry revelations will stop him from buying the game.

And perhaps it should not stop him, because Tiger Woods Online is a fabulous game. Millions and millions of hours of work will be lost forever because of it, which is the highest praise a game of this sort can earn. Unlike the company’s previous Tiger Woods PGA Tour games for consoles and PCs, you don’t need to go to a store or order anything to play. You just go to, install a browser plug-in and then decide if you want to tee off at Pebble Beach, St. Andrews or any of the other courses in the game.
You can play free or you can subscribe for access to additional features like custom tournaments with your friends. Electronic Arts has clearly learned something from the success of Facebook games like Mafia Wars in terms of developing a business model that is meant to lure people in with a free tier before convincing them to shell out some cash. (While the game does not include advertising at the moment, it may in the future.)
"We think this will be a productivity killer,” Peter Moore, president of EA Sports, said in an interview on Friday. He has good reason to be proud. Tiger Woods Online is an important game for him, his company and for the sports video-game genre generally.

Electronic Arts has sold more than 25 million copies since the series was introduced in 1999. The budget for the new online game was several million dollars, Mr. Moore said, which is inexpensive for a big-name game. The company also intends to introduce a new Tiger Woods console game in June.

As is his wont, Mr. Moore was extremely candid about the realities involved in creating and selling this game. While Accenture was trying to associate itself with an image of Tiger Woods as a person (“We know what it takes to be a Tiger”), the Tiger Woods golf games are strictly about Mr. Woods as an athlete.
“When you’re in the world that we’re in, dealing with these celebrities and athletes who are incredibly wealthy, you’ve got to be able to have somewhat of a thick skin in order to make difficult decisions from time to time,” Mr. Moore said. “Accenture is a business services company that is looking to bring its services to life. But Tiger Woods wasn’t actually involved in the product. He wasn’t wandering around making PowerPoint presentations in boardrooms. He wasn’t doing cost-benefit analyses for companies who are in trouble meeting their P&L targets.”

“For us, Tiger Woods is the product,” Mr. Moore added. “He is absolutely embedded in the game. He’s not just on the front of the product. It’s not 50 golfers, and he’s one of them. He has been absolutely integral to so many parts of this, and that is different from a hired gun who can be used interchangeably.” Mr. Moore added that the company never wavered on releasing the product, and that the development team did not pause for a single day of work.

All that said, one of the main attractions of Tiger Woods Online is that you, the player, create your own middle-aged avatar and then guide your virtual persona through the ranks of golfdom. You start out only able to play effectively from the shortest tees and then improve your distance and other golf skills until you can eventually play from the longest ones. As with real golf, the new game sucks you in through an alternately rewarding and maddening experience.

The graphics are not on par with the most advanced console or PC games, but they are still quite attractive and impressive for a game played through a Web browser. (Look Ma, no discs!)
Electronic Arts, like the rest of the game industry, is trying to position itself for a future when games (and other entertainment products) are delivered not on physical media but via the Internet. Tiger Woods Online is an excellent start, but it is a bit of a shame that it comes with so much baggage because of Mr. Woods’s personal behavior.

As for Mr. Woods himself, I hope he is playing more video games these days. And I hope that if I meet him a third time, he will tell me all about it, one real gamer — and one real person — to another.