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Original 'Harry Potter' cover art to go under hammer in NY

Publish: 02:20 AM, 23 Jun, 2024


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The original watercolor illustration for the first edition of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" -- the book that introduced the world to the young bespectacled wizard -- will go up for auction in New York on Wednesday.

The work by Thomas Taylor, who was just 23 years old in 1997 when he painted the iconic image of the young boy with the lightning bolt scar and the round glasses, is expected to fetch from $400,000 to $600,000 at Sotheby's.

Taylor was working at a children's bookstore in Cambridge, England, when he was tapped by publisher Barry Cunningham at Bloomsbury to paint the image for J.K. Rowling's book, which was to be released in London on June 26, 1997.

He was one of the first people to read the book, getting an early copy of the manuscript to inform his artwork, according to Sotheby's books specialist Kalika Sands.

"So he knew about the world before anybody else and it was really up to him to think of how he visualized Harry Potter," Sands told AFP.

Rowling and Taylor were unknown when the book was released, and few expected it would become a global phenomenon. Only 500 copies of the first edition were printed, and 300 of them were sent to libraries, according to Sotheby's.

But the book soon became a runaway bestseller.

Twenty-seven years later, the so-called "Potterverse" features Rowling's seven original books, a blockbuster film franchise, a critically acclaimed stage play and video games.

More than 500 million copies of the books have been sold in 80 languages.

"It's exciting to see the painting that marks the very start of my career, decades later and as bright as ever," Taylor, now a children's book author and illustrator, said in a statement released by Sotheby's.

"As I write and illustrate my own stories today, I am proud to look back on such magical beginnings," Taylor said.

The first time the illustration was offered at auction at Sotheby's in London in 2001, it only fetched 85,750 pounds (about $108,500 at current exchange rates) -- but only four of the books had been published at that time.

The illustration is part of a collection of manuscripts and rare book editions going up for sale that also features works by some of literature's great heavyweights, including Edgar Allan Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.

The collection belonged to surgeon Rodney Swantko, who died in 2002 at the age of 82.


(Source: BSS/AFP)



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Interview with Raihan Rafi: The Director Behind 'Toofan'

Publish: 04:19 PM, 16 Jun, 2024


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Currently, one of the most known and successful directors in the Dhallywood industry is Raihan Rafi. Following the success of his film "Surongo," he is now set to release his new film "Toofan," starring the mega-star Shakib Khan.

The teaser for "Toofan" sparked a lot of discussions, and the song “Lage Uradhura” has become immensely popular. Following the release of the trailer yesterday, there has been significant interest from the audience. Bangla Insider sat down with the popular director Raihan Rafi to discuss "Toofan."

Bangla Insider: How do you feel about the hype surrounding "Toofan" even before its release?

Raihan Rafi: It feels great. I hope that with "Toofan," we can meet the audience's expectations for our film.

Bangla Insider: People are saying that no other movie will be able to compete with "Toofan." What are your thoughts on this?

Raihan Rafi: Look, I never think of it that way. If all the movies released do well at the box office, it’s beneficial for our industry. So, I wish all the best to the other films releasing alongside "Toofan."

Bangla Insider: Is "Toofan" going to be the biggest blockbuster in Bangladesh’s history?

Raihan Rafi: I’m not thinking about that right now. But I can say that no one has ever seen a Bangladeshi film like this before. And also no one has ever presented mega-star Shakib Khan like this.

Bangla Insider: Along with you, there are several other young directors whose work is being well-received by the audience. From this perspective, you guys are the future of the country's film industry. What do you think what are the responsibilities in this regard?

Raihan Rafi: Our primary responsibility is to keep producing good work. If you continue to deliver quality projects, it will naturally help advance our industry.

Bangla Insider: Finally, do you have anything to say to the audience?

Raihan Rafi: I would say that there has never been a movie like "Toofan" in Bangladesh before. "Toofan" is releasing this Eid. I hope everyone will come to the theaters to enjoy the film. Stay well and continue to support Bangladeshi cinema.

 

 


Shakib Khan   Raihan Rafi   Toofan   Mimi   Nabila   Chanchal Chowdhury   Fazlur Rahman Babu  


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Bad Boys Ride or Die ( Review )

Publish: 02:48 PM, 10 Jun, 2024


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Title: Bad Boys Ride or Die

Director: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah

Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton

Genre: Action, Comedy

Runtime: 124 minutes

Release Date: June 7, 2024


Introduction:

'Bad Boys Ride or Die' the latest installment in the 'Bad Boys' franchise, reunites Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as the iconic duo Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett. Directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, the film promises high-octane action, witty banter, and the camaraderie fans have come to love. But does it deliver the goods? As a film critic, I dive into the heart of this explosive ride to see if it lives up to the legacy.

Plot Summary:

The film opens with Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) facing the realities of aging in their line of work. While Marcus is ready to retire and enjoy his family life, Mike is reluctant to hang up his badge. However, when a dangerous new cartel emerges, led by the ruthless villain El Diablo (played with menacing charisma by Javier Bardem), the duo is forced back into action. With the stakes higher than ever, they must navigate betrayal, high-speed chases, and intense shootouts to take down the cartel and protect their city.

Performance Analysis:

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence continue to showcase their undeniable chemistry, which remains the heart and soul of the film. Smith's Mike Lowrey is as charismatic and fearless as ever, while Lawrence's Marcus Burnett provides the comic relief and emotional grounding. The evolution of their characters adds depth, making their partnership more compelling than before.

Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, and Charles Melton join the cast as the younger members of the AMMO task force. They bring fresh energy to the team, with Hudgens standing out as the tech-savvy and fierce Kelly. Their inclusion adds a new dynamic, bridging the old-school methods with modern techniques, though some fans might miss the focus solely on Mike and Marcus.

Direction and Cinematography:

Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah infuse the film with a sleek, stylish look. The action sequences are meticulously choreographed, offering a blend of practical effects and CGI that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. From explosive car chases through Miami's streets to intense hand-to-hand combat, the directors ensure that the action is both thrilling and visually spectacular.

Cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert captures the vibrant energy of Miami, with its sun-soaked beaches and neon-lit nights providing a stunning backdrop. The film's pacing is brisk, balancing action and humor effectively, although at times, it feels like the story takes a backseat to the set pieces.

Script and Dialogue:

The script, penned by Chris Bremner, stays true to the franchise's roots, blending humor, drama, and action seamlessly. The dialogue crackles with the signature banter between Mike and Marcus, though some of the jokes feel recycled from previous installments. The narrative attempts to delve deeper into the characters' personal lives, but these moments are often overshadowed by the relentless pace of the action.

Themes and Messages:

'Bad Boys Ride or Die' explores themes of loyalty, family, and the passage of time. The film highlights the importance of adapting to change while staying true to one's values. The juxtaposition of the seasoned veterans and the new generation of cops serves as a commentary on the evolution of law enforcement and the need for collaboration across generations.

Final Verdict:

'Bad Boys Ride or Die' is a worthy addition to the beloved franchise, delivering the adrenaline-pumping action and camaraderie fans expect. While it may not break new ground, it successfully balances nostalgia with fresh elements, ensuring an entertaining ride from start to finish. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence's performances anchor the film, reminding us why we fell in love with their characters in the first place.

For fans of the series, this latest installment is a must-watch. For newcomers, it's a thrilling introduction to the world of "Bad Boys." Despite its occasional narrative shortcomings 'Bad Boys Ride or Die' proves that some partnerships are timeless, and some rides are too wild to miss.


Bad Boys Ride or Die   Will Smith   Martin Lawrence   Bad Boys   Adil El Arbi   Bilall Fallah  


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Will Shakib's 'Toofan' outshine the rest?

Publish: 07:43 PM, 07 Jun, 2024


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Will Shakib's 'Toofan' outshine the rest?

This Eid promises an array of cinematic delights for Bangladeshi movie buffs, with a lineup of special releases set to hit the screens. Among these, the spotlight falls on the much-anticipated film 'Toofan', featuring none other than Shakib Khan and directed by the talented Raihan Rafi. Speculations are rife that 'Toofan' might emerge as the undisputed champion among Eid releases this year. What factors contribute to such anticipation?

Shakib Khan, an iconic figure in Bangladeshi cinema, needs no introduction. Paired with the collaborative brilliance of director Raihan Rafi, 'Toofan' is poised to showcase one of Khan's career-defining performances. Already, the film's trailer and promotional campaigns have ignited a fervent buzz among audiences, setting high expectations.

Many film critics are foresee 'Toofan' as a potential blockbuster hit for various reasons. Firstly, Khan's massive fan base, coupled with his recent standout performances, fuels anticipation for the film. Secondly, the adept direction of Raihan Rafi and the depth of the storyline promise a cinematic experience worth remembering.

Consequently, 'Toofan' emerges as a distinct attraction for cinephiles this Eid, potentially overshadowing its cinematic counterparts. While other films may possess their unique allure, the allure of 'Toofan' could prove insurmountable.

For Bangladeshi film enthusiasts, the success of 'Toofan' could cast a shadow over the rest of the Eid releases. The collaboration between Shakib Khan and Raihan Rafi is poised to carve a new milestone in the annals of the Bangladeshi film industry.

While some may argue the improbability of leading the industry with just one film, true success lies in sustained achievements. Only through such collective efforts can Bangladeshi cinema truly flourish and progress.

In the realm of Eid releases, all eyes are on 'Toofan'. Will it indeed reign supreme? Only time will tell, but the anticipation is palpable, and the stakes are high.

 


Shakib Khan   Raihan Rafi   Toofan   Mimi  


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A Daring Experiment in Perspective: Glazer's "The Zone of Interest"

Publish: 07:28 PM, 06 Jun, 2024


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"The Zone of Interest" stands out as one of the most daring films of recent times. Jonathan Glazer’s latest work is a radical experiment in perspective, limiting the audience’s view of atrocities while adopting that of the perpetrators. From the outset, Glazer establishes his formal concept, keeping all the horrors of Auschwitz just outside the frame and instead focusing on a blissfully unaware Nazi family going about their daily routines near the camp. This approach effectively communicates society’s ability to compartmentalize evil and ignore its own complicity, a message that resonates more loudly and clearly than the offscreen screams in the soundtrack.

Reviewers have often referenced Hannah Arendt's quote about the banality of evil when discussing this film. Her study of a Nazi bureaucrat who committed monstrous deeds while maintaining an ordinary demeanor mirrors the unsettling idea conveyed repeatedly in Glazer’s film.

There’s nothing wrong with a film that clearly conveys its message, especially when that message remains profoundly relevant. However, after two hours of variations on a rigid stylistic framework, the film takes a dramatic turn in its final scene. This rupture in time and space breaks the movie’s strategic tunnel vision, revealing a glimmer of dawning awareness. If the rest of the film is hard to misinterpret, its ending is rich with interpretive possibilities, an enigmatic ellipsis.

In the closing minutes, the setting shifts to Berlin, far from the concentration camp overseen by Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel). Höss leaves a disturbingly mundane Nazi office party, held in honor of his heinous new mass-extermination plan. After boasting to his wife over the phone, he hangs up, leaves his office, and wanders through the darkened government building. Suddenly, he feels the urge to vomit on the stairs. As he stumbles onto a new floor, he is met with a vision of the future: Auschwitz, now a museum commemorating his victims.

The popular interpretation of this ending is that Höss is finally confronted with the enormity of his role in Hitler’s Final Solution. He retches because the horrifying truth has found him in the terrible quiet and darkness. For a moment, his sociopathic detachment falters. In a recent interview, Friedel reinforced this interpretation, saying, “I think it’s a fight: body against his soul. Because the body tells the truth and our mind, we can betray ourselves. We are masters of self-deception.” Friedel also noted a relevant inspiration for him and Glazer: the final scene of the documentary "The Act of Killing," where a genocidal Indonesian gangster, Anwar Congo, also breaks into a fit of retching, as if finally overcome by his actions.

Still, it's worth considering an alternative reading of the movie's ending. What if Congo, a self-professed movie buff who sometimes modeled his murders on action and crime films, was performing a moral awakening for the cameras? What if his remorse was as calculated as his gangster swagger? Similarly, Höss might be experiencing a different kind of rude awakening in "The Zone of Interest" — not the emergence of a conscience but rather the realization of his insignificance in the grand scheme of things.

Glazer doesn’t present a clear portrait of moral culpability. For one, the retching occurs before the vision, complicating any straightforward sense of cause and psychological effect. Is Höss feeling the physical shockwaves of the truth that his premonition will further illustrate, or did he simply drink too much at the party? Reversing the order of events avoids the simple dramatic optics of an unapologetic war criminal feeling a pang of regret. It’s notable that the movie ends in 1943, two years before Germany surrendered. The real-life Höss did not have an Oskar Schindler moment; he continued serving Hitler’s vision and remained unrepentant until shortly before his execution. An American psychologist who spoke with Höss wrote of him: “There is too much apathy to leave any suggestion of remorse.”

So, if it’s not guilt that overwhelms the character in the final minutes, unsettling his stomach and mind, what does? Perhaps something smaller and more trivial. "The Zone of Interest" portrays Höss as a bureaucratic monster: a mass murderer who views the Holocaust as a mere professional accomplishment. Friedel discovered a telling quote from the real commandant during his research: “It was my job, and I want to be the best at my job.” Höss wasn’t just “following orders” — he was trying to follow them exceptionally well, to earn a gold star.

Thus, perhaps what he sees at the end of the hall is a future where no one appreciates what he’s done — not the technological ingenuity of his murders, nor the efficiency of the camp under his leadership. People will visit Auschwitz to honor his victims, not him. He becomes a footnote in history, remembered as a mere cog in the death machine, if at all. The final words Höss utters involve gloating about naming a future act of genocide after him, highlighting his preoccupation with his professional reputation. The historical irrelevance of that concern is what turns his stomach.

In a way, the brief vignette Glazer cuts to — an observational, quasi-documentary of janitors cleaning what is now a museum — mirrors Höss’s blinkered thinking, even as it offers a deliberate break from it. Auschwitz remains a workplace. The custodians we see calmly dusting its surfaces are doing a job, just as Höss was. If there’s any correlation between his nausea and the vision, it probably lies in his realization that he’s nothing more than a custodian of atrocities. The ending is a distorted version of a workaholic’s nightmare: his labor will not be celebrated, and his Employee of the Month certificate will come down. Ultimately, "The Zone of Interest" depicts genocide as a line item on a middle manager’s résumé. Even as Glazer shifts scenes, he maintains that disturbing framework.

That said, the ending extends beyond Höss’s specific guilt, highlighting the barriers the entire world erects between itself and unspeakable horrors. The final cutaway suggests that it’s easier to condemn evil in hindsight — to view it as a dark chapter of history, a horror we can study behind glass but no longer prevent. Yet, the evil of the Holocaust isn’t just a past issue. It manifests in new forms continually, ignored and condoned as we speak. Tomorrow’s somber memorials are today’s atrocities happening just over the garden wall.

Within this film, audiences also witness how sanitization can serve as a tool for erasure. Through Glazer's lens, we catch a glimpse of its alternative use: maintenance. The portrayal of how history is remembered, and current events are noted — be it through propaganda, photography, video, or the internet — illustrates an ongoing interplay between the actual truth and its edited versions. The timing of "The Zone of Interest" release, amidst global powers' narrative manipulation to sanitize their misdeeds, amplifies the chilling effect of Glazer's imagery. His weaving together of past and present, the contrast between appearance and truth, life and annihilation, assumes an undeniable significance.


Hollywood Movies   Movie Reviews   Holocaust  


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Sangeet Oikko Bangladesh felicitates Rezwana Choudhury Bannya on receiving 'Padma Shri'

Publish: 12:11 PM, 07 Feb, 2024


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Sangeet Oikko Bangladesh, the umbrella organisation for several of the country's music-related groups, has honoured the eminent Rabindra Sangeet artist Rezwana Choudhury Bannya, who has recently been named as one of the distinguished recipients of India’s prestigious "Padma Shri" award by the Government of India.

On Monday (February 5) evening, the representative team of Sangeet Oikko Bangladesh congratulated the iconic singer at her residence in the capital with floral greetings on behalf of the organisation.

Secretary Generals of the organisation Shahid Mahmud Jangi and Naquib Khan, alongside Sangeet Oikko’s Publicity and Publication Secretary, National Film Award-winning lyricist Zulfikar Russell, went to felicitate Bannya, who is also the President of the organisation.

Bannya received Bangladesh's highest civilian award, the Independence Award, in 2016 for her contribution to the country’s music. This time, the eminent artist was awarded India's fourth highest civilian honour, the 'Padma Shri' for her distinguished service in the field of art.

Lyricists’ Association of Bangladesh, Singers’ Association of Bangladesh, Music Composers’ Society Bangladesh, and Bangladesh Musicians Foundation have united under the banner of 'Sangeet Oikya Bangladesh' in 2021 to protect the rights of people associated with the country’s music industry.

This organisation is working together with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the Bangladesh Copyright Office to create links between all parties in music and formulate jointly developed proposals for the betterment of the industry.

The first and current committee members of the organisation include President Rezwana Choudhury Bannya, Secretary Generals Shaheed Mahmud Jangi, Naquib Khan, and Kumar Bishwajit, Finance and Department Secretary Asif Iqbal, Information Technology and International Affairs Secretary Hasan Abidur Reza Jewel, Cultural Secretary Bappa Mazumder, Publicity and Publication Secretary Zulfikar Russell, and Executive Members Manam Ahmed, Kabir Bakul, Shawkat Ali Imon, and Joy Shahriar.

India’s highest civilian honour is "Bharat Ratna," followed by "Padma Vibhushan," "Padma Bhushan" and "Padma Shri" in chronological order. These awards are conferred for special contributions in different sectors.

This year, the Indian government has nominated 132 distinguished people for the Padma Awards. Five of them are receiving the "Padma Vibhushan," 17 are receiving the "Padma Bhushan" and 110 are receiving the "Padma Shri’" award, including Bannya.

Earlier in 2021, the Indian government awarded the "Padma Shri" to the leading personalities of the cultural arena of Bangladesh, including Chhayanaut President Professor Sanjida Khatun and Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) Quazi Sazzad Ali Zahir, Bir Protik.

Previously, archaeologist Enamul Haque and social worker Jharnadhara Chowdhury also received the "Padma Shri" award, while late-eminent educationist Professor Anisuzzaman and diplomat Syed Moazzem Ali received 'Padma Bhushan' from the Government of India.


Bangladesh   Rezwana Choudhury Bannya   Padma Shri  


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