(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Movie: Blinded By the Light
Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max
The Pitch: Javed (Viveik Kalra) is a poetry-writing Pakistani teenager growing up in the racially divided, working class town of Luton, England in 1987, who dreams of escaping his intolerant hometown. He unexpectedly finds that escape in the music of Bruce Springsteen, with whom he finds a powerful ally and whose songs soon inspire him to follow his own dreams.
Why It’s Essential Viewing: Who doesn’t like a singular expression of joy told through the music of Bruce Springsteen? Blinded by the Light is directed by British-Indian filmmaker Gurinder Chadha with the same light touch and cultural awareness that she brought to her sleeper hit Bend It Like Beckham, and it’s got a killer soundtrack to boot. Such a killer soundtrack that it’s almost a shame that Blinded By the Light doesn’t become a full-fledged jukebox musical like it clearly wants to be. I mean there’s a whole dance sequence! That’s the one thing that would turn Blinded By the Light into an all-time coming-of-age classic, but even without that element, it’s a vibrant and affecting ode to the power of music.
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Viveik Kalra is likely not a name you know, unless you happened to have seen the Sundance TV mini-series Next of Kin (he had a supporting role in it) or caught his other series Beecham House on PBS earlier this summer. But Kalra has been getting a great deal of acclaim since January when his film debut Blinded by the Light, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and quickly became a favorite among critics and audiences.
The film concerns a young Pakistani-British boy named Javed (Kalra), living in the crap town of Luten in 1987, when Britain was under the brutal reign of Margaret Thatcher, whose leadership seemed to usher the return of highly racist ideas among the populace. But when young, synth-pop-loving would-be poet and writer is introduced to the music of Bruce Springsteen by a school friend, the world opens up to him as he begins to realize that the hard journey of a 30-something rock star from New Jersey is quite similar to his own struggles at home, in school, and in his changing country. It’s an uplifting and unapologetically joyful coming-of-age film from director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham), based on the memoir by journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, both of whom collaborated on the screenplay, and made the film with Springsteen’s blessing and quite a handful of his original songs.
Kalra is now filming writer/director Neil Burger’s new sci-fi thrill Voyagers, co-starring Colin Farrell, Tye Sheridan, and Lily-Rose Depp. /Film caught up with him in May during his appearance at the Chicago Critics Film Festival to discuss his crash-course introduction to the music of Bruce Springsteen, how he got the role of Javed, and how this music and experience has altered the course of his life as well. Blinded by the Light is currently in theaters.
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The music of Bruce Springsteen plays a major role in Blinded by the Light, which means that if the Boss said “No way” to the use of his songs, the filmmakers would’ve been in trouble. Luckily, Springsteen was happy to let Blinded by the Light use many of his signature tunes, resulting in a movie that’s bound to be a crowd-please. The Blinded by the Light featurette below reveals how the filmmakers managed to get Springsteen’s blessing.
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We’ve officially hit the midpoint of 2019, and that means it’s time to take stock of the year’s best movies so far. This summer has been mostly unremarkable, with a few glimmers of greatness here and there, but thankfully, the rest of the year has offered some gems worth gushing about. Honestly though, most of the great movies this year, at least for my personal list, come courtesy of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, and thankfully, they’ll be on the way to theaters soon enough.
Below, find out my list of the 10 best movies of 2019 so far. Read More »
Even though the summer is chock-full of blockbusters, there are some indie treasures that will be vying for your attention this season, and one of them was quite the sensation at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.
Based on Sarfraz Manzoor’s acclaimed memoir Greetings from Bury Park, the film Blinded by the Light tells the true story of how one Pakistani British teen (newcomer Viveik Kalra in a breakthrough performance) takes solace in the inspirational tunes of Bruce Springsteen. Clashing with his family, persecuted in the streets, and outcast at school, The Boss is the one thing that keeps this kid going strong. Watch the Blinded by the Light trailer below. Read More »
Everyone has that one movie, TV show, book, or album that came along at the perfect time in their life. Just when everything felt like it was crumbling around you, this incredible piece of art lifted you up to make everything seem like it might be all right. In the irresistible coming-of-age indie Blinded by the Light, this revelation comes to a teenage Pakistani boy named Javed (Viveik Kalra) when he needs it the most. Suffocated by a small town, forced into a career he doesn’t want, and harassed by Neo-Nazis, Javed suddenly finds inspiration in an unlikely hero: Bruce Springsteen. Read More »