Magnum Opus by Sujoy

Copyright 2007 | No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission. Mail me at :sujoy.singha[at]gmail[dot]com

Index of Movies

I have been reviewing movies for quite some time now. Here I have the index of all those which I have reviewed on this website.

Magnum Opus Index of Movie Reviews.

As you all know, I have moved to my new website

It also has movie reviews, and the Index page is given below.

OneKnightStands Movie Review Index.

Hope you enjoy reading them.


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It just can't get monstrous than this. This is it. The most ultimate monster movie there is , and I guess there will be ever, until and unless we have our genetic engineers creating a live King Kong who experiences the same emotions of love, anger, and pain and also is as strong enough to rip off the jaw of a T-Rex. Enough said, Peter Jackson is one of the (if not the) greatest directors of our times. Well, people do believe that whatever his ventures are, his work will always be shadowed by the LOTR trilogy. But , in King Kong, we see the imagination and the boyish fantasy of a true King Kong fan getting wings and flying high, unleashing his own vision and shades to the 1933 classic starring Fay Wray.The boy here is, director Peter Jackson.After his Lord of the Rings trilogy earned a zillion dollars, a slew of Oscars, and a place at the tip top of the Hollywood pyramid, Jackson was able to write his own ticket. As his follow-up project, Jackson chose to remake King Kong, which had industry observers scratching their heads.Historically, sequels and remakes of the original Kong ranged from bad to unwatchable, and while Jackson certainly knows effects and storytelling, Kong remakes seem to be cursed endeavors. Voodoo or no, they're probably ill-advised. 1933's Kong is one of those movie archetypes that really shouldn't be messed with.
King Kong simply isn't meant to be trifled with. Alas, some will try.With this update, Jackson has the best of intentions and the utmost reverence for the source material. The movie is chock full of homages to the original, from the opening title design to snippets of dialogue used to a scene with giant bugs that was partially shot and cut from the 1933 version. In fact, Jackson's devotion to the original is fawning to the point of obsequiousness, with one noteworthy exception: His version of the film is nearly twice as long. It runs for 187 minutes according to IMDB, but who cares.You just get so much immersed into the movie so deeply, you just do not have any track of time. From the moment the reels begin to roll, you are there, 1930s New York, depression era..people unemployed and starving, the rich getting richer and poor, poorer with no space for the middle class. The depiction of Manhattan is truly a masterpiece, the cinematography--impeccable.The movie is brilliantly divided into three basic constituents( if you may say so) -- New York and the main character build up, Skull Island, and Kong in the city.

The first part encircles around the characters and how they come together to this venture of a lifetime. Jack Black plays obsessive film maker Carl Denham who is passionate about making a movie in the locales of the far East. He gets hold of a map, which he beleives will lead to his Neverland, only that this place is actually Never-go-there-Land. Having trouble with financers , studio people and distributors Denham decides to do it on his own.We are then introduced to out of work ,theatre actress ,Ann Farrow who is trying hard to make ends meet.Denham convinces her to play the role of the actress in his movie. Naomi Watts in this immortal character of Ann Farrow is more than what you would have expected. Simply ethereal. You also come across other characters such as Kyle Chandler as Bruce Baxter, the actor , and of course Adrien Brody as scriptwriter Jack Driscoll.Other characters you see revolving around the storyline are Jimmy played by Jamie Bell of Billy Elliot fame, Preston , Denham's assistant and Captain Englehorn. Denham tricks everyone and has a narrow escape himself to set off for his journey to Skull Island ignorant of the things to come.

Eventually we arrive at Skull Island, only to be greeted by spear-wielding natives (their faces jabbed full of leftover prop piercings from Jackson's LOTR orc army) .Skull Island itself seems so scary with its foggy shoreline,jungle edge to the seaside,massive retaining wall around island, and hell like living place of the native tribe, a race of people dentally challenged covered with dirt,skulls and blood ,who promptly kidnap Ann as a sacrifice to the great ape . What you see next is simply Jaw-dropping,heart-stopping, eye-popping action sequences non-stop . Just fasten your seat belts because what you experience is nothing less than a roller-coaster ride. You just have more and more creatures invading the screen and making your adrenaline rush like you are on the driver seat of a formula-1 Ferrari taking your fastest lap at NASSCAR. The dinosaur stampedes featuring brontosauruses and little dinosauruses is simply breath-taking( not in a good way) and then you see more of it and more and more, until you start just want it to finish, but hey there's some more.We have King Kong raging against the search party, out to rescue Ann. Kong vs. the three T-Rexes is just brilliant.I am falling short of words here. The search party being bugged by some really disgusting bugs, or whatever is at its grossiest best, or worst for that matter. Amidst all this, we also get to see some original piece of Peter Jackson with Ann trying to connect to the ape, with all sorts of funny tricks and we get to know the lighter, vegetarian side of King Kong and who has a starnge sense of humour. The movie scores highly on this. The relation that Ann shares with the ape is brilliantly conveyed throught the lens of Peter Jackson and Naomi Watts' 1000 watt glittering eyes, and more than that Andy Serkis' CG portrayal of the 25 feet ape.

Denham , being the obsessed filmmaker he is, just doesn't give up even when members of his crew die and his cameras and reels are destroyed. He now instead plans to capture the beast and show it to the world. and so then , the tussle between the ape and the crew.And when Kong is displayed at Broadway as the 8th wonder of the world, he isn't happy about it. All hell breaks loose when he breaks the shackles and the beast is all let loose on the streets of Manhattan. Ann finds him, and you have a really touching scene of Kong with Ann, sliding on the ice rink. And before you get cozy, we have the US army hunting him down.The ape now takes the Empire State Building as his retreat, not until he is again hunted down by Airplanes, and he falls to his death. This entire episode on the Empire State Building is filled with so high emotions and sentiments seen in the eyes of both Kong and Ann. Peter Jackson has definitely been able to capture the essence of the story, which despite being a monster-movie filled with huge action scenes and special effects, at heart is a story of a Beast falling for Beauty. Give the man an Oscar again.

Special Credits:

The entire crew-- Cinematographer Andrew Lesnie to have given so many breath taking views of 1930s vintage New York , spell bounding natural wild side of Skull Island as well as its scary face,Production Designer Grant Major to have created New York of the 1930s down to last inch perfectly, editor Jamie Selkirk for the crispy action sequences, Make-up man Richard Taylor, this movie goes into your resume as your best freak show, Joe Letteri and his team of Special Effects, I won't say a word because you people have left me speechless.Of course, Academy Award winner pair of scriptwriters Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens.
The only downside of the crew is the BackGround score by James Newton Howard. I don't have any clue why Peter Jackson opted for him, even when Howard Shore scored so brilliantly for his LOTR movies, and even won the Oscars for it. I believe Howard Shore had a guest role in the movie as the symphony conductor at the Broadway scene when Kong is 'premiered' for the first time.The score is good, but just not very outstanding, like it should have been, like the other ingriedents of the movie.

Adrian Brody--as the 1930s playwright Jack Driscoll, he is out and out the man. Friend to the weird filmmaker Denham, and the man who falls in love with Ann. Thought the character is not dealt much in detail, but hey they couldn't have done more . After all, its a story about the Beauty and the Beast.

Jack Black--as Carl Denham, greedy, ambitious, never gonna stop attitude.You see it all come to life in his performance.Brilliant.The man has come a long way from his Tenacious D movies and musical comedy days. From School of Rock to King Kong, one Monster Leap.

Naomi Watts--as Ann Farrow, one of the most immortal characters of cinema, it definitely takes a lot out of ya to even bag such a role. I simply loved the way she brought back the good old classics by the way she portrayed herself, the way she moved and talked, and how she expectedly imitated the way actresses a few decades ago would act in front of the camera: too modest looking, too disciplined, too gentle, and too fluid. She was natural. No wonder, Kong fell for her..hehhe She is absolutely stunning.

Andy Serkis--as the Beast, King Kong. I wish he should have won the Best Actor in a Supporting Role as the Gollum in LOTR. He does it again, giving life this time to the 25 feet beast King Kong.I can't say anything against this, even if I wish to. Just go see it, if you haven't. Trust me, its more than worth every penny of what you spend on the ticket.

Bow to the Man: Peter Jackson
If it had been announced that a remake of the classic "King Kong" was being made without the name Peter Jackson attached to it, there is no doubt audiences would have been outraged. But after the enormous success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it would seem that the general public has learned to trust director Peter Jackson. After watching his remake of King Kong, I would have to say that their trust was well placed.
Jackson now firmly cements his name as a master filmmaker, the kind that all aspiring directors want to be. The attention he pays to the most minute details, the sheer class he shows in terms of production and scale, the amount of skill he has in manipulating our fragile emotions... the man is clearly one of the most talented directors in film history. And Jackson certainly brings his considerable skill and flair to show here in 'Kong'. While a different director likely would have speed up the story to the crew's arrival on Skull Island, Jackson takes his time with a nice, leisurely build up to their arrival, giving us lots of time to really get to know these characters, and also providing time for a slow and genuine romance building between the characters of Anne and Jack. This romance does lead to the very few and seldom weaknesses of the film... the romance scenes can seem a bit cheesy and contrived at times. But when that's literally the only complain I can make, it's a pretty damn good sign for the movie!And Jackson seems to have an almost uncanny skill in manipulating his audience's emotions - you will cheer, you will laugh, you will cry, you will really be on the edge of your seat and you will be truly and thoroughly disgusted in at least one part of the movie - watch out for a cave full of giant insects on Skull Island.

Last Words:
So we have the best of both worlds--the touching emotional scenes as well as the beasty, thrilling action coming live with hair-curling special effects. Peter Jackson's King Kong is the most definitive King Kong movie ever made.Though I haven't seen the 1933 original, only the 1976 version and also glimpses of the unforgettable 1986 sequel, Peter should be very happy and also proud of himself to have achieved what he had wanted at the very first place, not to outperform the original or spoof it, but to pay a sincere tribute to yesteryear's cinema in a glorious way, by not ending up just being an XBox 360 version of something on an Atari, better visuals and special effects, nothing more. Peter Jackson's King Kong is way much more. It doesn't matter if you compare it to the original or not. It bothers to some that the movie has grown to a size twice the original, that it feels like Peter Jackson adapted a 600 page novel rather than a 100 minute movie. For me,personally I would not like anything deleted from the movie. Its just so perfect. I'm still dumbstruck. Kong's awesome. Kong rules. Bravo, Peter Jackson, bravo ..!!!!!!!
To conclude, I qoute Carl Denham's last words in the movie: " No, It is not the airplanes, but Beauty which killed the Beast "..Rarely are our emotions manipulated with such ease, rarely do we find ourselves getting so engrossed in a story that a 3 hour running time seems to have gone by far too quickly and we yearn for more. King Kong is an odyssey of a movie, and the most genuine and compelling output seen since... well, the Lord of the Rings. This is classic storytelling at its peak - don't miss out on it!
Now come should not be reading my blog just to get educated whether you really want to see King Kong.............

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It begins: "'Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.."..Pt.Nehru's famous speech on the eve of India's Independence.The scrolling words after Pt.Nehru's famous independent speech of tryst with destiny, revealing the mistake in the speech that , at the stroke of the midnight hour when the whole world was not actually not asleep, it was afternoon in New York.Never really gave it a thought , but its true.
It shows how the youth of India percieved India's independence way beyond just the win of freedom struggle from the British. We want freedom from the bad, tyrraneous system that exists.We want freedom from oppression. We want freedom of speech, freedom to live irrespective of our sex, religion, caste, creed or colour.
Have we got it? It is still a question unanswered even when India has entered the 21st century.We still have people unreached with justice, freedom and independence.So, is this cry for independence just going to remain a khwaish, one among those very thousands..which remains suppressed within us?
As the reels start rolling after the scrolling words from the narrator, we are left exposed to the jaw dropping visuals of that Summer of 69, where no one wishes to go..the corpses lying around like rotten leaves fallen from the trees, the living, no better than the corpses..all deaf, dumb to the inhuman bloodshed.The opening scene of Sudhir Mishra's "Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi" strikes you right at your core so hard, that you fall dumb and really feel the noise in that silent few minutes of the beginning.

Sudhir Mishra's Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi reflects the intensity and fate of three young characters, who start out on the same platform but choose different journeys and reach a destination of their own making. It could be the story of three ordinary, or not so ordinary, people, depending on the given circumstances, if the setting of this drama wasn't such a crucial time in history.
The late 1960s and early 1970s were turbulent times -- angst filled and revolutionary. It was the time of Vietnam, of flower power, of the Emergency and the rise of the Naxal movement in India. And a booming population of restless youth was eager to wage war against anything that curbed idealism. Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi digs into a section of this crazy chapter of history through its three protagonists – Siddharth Tyabji (Kaykay Menon), Geeta Rao (Chitrangada Singh) and Vikram Malhotra(Shiny Ahuja).

Sidhharth is an idealist. Born to a Muslim lawyer father and a Hindu mother and believes in Marxism.The story traces Siddharth's journey from Marxist jargon to the Maoist (Naxalite) rebellion. His emotional attachment to Geeta does not stop him from his political pursuits.
Post-college, Geeta is married to an IAS officer but she continues to see Siddharth on the sly.
Vikram too has always nursed unconditional love in his heart for Geeta. But that's all there is to his soft side. A small town boy once, Vikram climbs the social ladder by networking in the big league unabashedly.
Geeta ends her marriage and starts living in the village with Siddharth. This is the time in the film when Geeta's character evolves. From a London-bred girl to teaching village women, or having a child out of wedlock or asking favours from Vikram in hours of need to a lot of other gruesome realities, Geeta discovers herself.
The story movies on. The characters mature and move on. They regret. They apologise. They change. Their lives are not the same.
Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi plays like a novel spanning a decade. While Geeta is a picture of poignancy and inspires awe, Vikram's complexities leave the viewer perturbed. There is a lot to his greyness that is unsaid and yet subtly hinted through mere expressions. He is the most mysterious of them all.

The real thing:
If you've ever wondered why our nation is in such a mess, "Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi" attempts to tell you where we could have gone wrong. Mishra's most complex, ambitious film to date, "Hazaaron..." knits the major political upheavals between 1969 and 1977 into a love triangle, as he minces no words in castigating the Nehruvian "ideals" that modern India adopted as its model for governance.
Death, says one song in this remarkably dense and evocative film, is akin to love. And Vikram (Shiney Ahuja) sees death every time Geeta (Chitrangda Rao) looks at her idol-lover, the protagonist, Sidharth (Kay Kay Menon). The story weaves so beautifully the politically unstable Delhi and Calcutta of that era, and also brings out the chaotic Bhojpur District of Bihar.
The climax, should not disclose it, for the sake of the film-maker. You just have to watch it, if you haven't. And well I am going to watch it again today.

The ups:
Definitely , first of all: Kay Kay Menon, man he's so very good. Shiney Ahuja as the materialistic loser Vikram Malhotra..awesome performance. Chitrangada Singh, don't know if she does look like Smita Patil. But I do know one thing, she is one good actress. As Geeta Rao, the Uk return, Bhojpur settled struggler, she just leaves an indelible impression on your mind.
Sudhir Mishra's narrative, Shantanu Mopitra's brilliant score..Mann ye Bawra, and Bawra Mann, both surround the movie so brilliantly.

The downs:
I don't know why, but the movie set in the 1970s seemed so much bright to me. The colours and the entire setup of the movie did not seem quite 70s. Apart from that, the movie is a winner, by all means.

Last comments:
All the three protagonists seem to have understood the politics of Mishra's layered cinema, as he goes about making no bones about his contempt and cynicism for Nehruvian idealism.
This film lashes out at the Congress 'role-model' of governance almost to the point of denouncing and demolishing all that the architects of modern India dreamt of.

As a nation, where did we fail?Where did our leaders fall short? It offers no solutions, but makes you sit up and think.A lot of what you will see in "Hazaar..." will seem unreal and bizarre. But there is no exaggeration - it simply presents the politics we've been gifted with by the architects of Indian democracy

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