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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Check out the new site for all my latest posts on Movies, Music, Pop Culture, Humor and much more.


Extremely depressed after a long,working week, Friday Evening was the time when I had to go and watch a movie and unfortunately , there were no other tickets available for me other than for Eragon.What can I say?It is movies like Eragon which are made, to make one realise that high budget Hollywood Special Effects can also fall flat on the face. It sets an example of how exactly movies ,should not be made.No matter how much bucks you thrown into, you definitely can end up creating absolute crap if you don't have the craft.

George Lucas' Six Star Wars, Peter Jackson's LOTR Trilogy, and well the four Harry Potter Movies. After being a witness to all these fantasy movies (some masterpieces like the Return of the Jedi and LOTR-Return of the King, and some not so much -the Harry Potter Series), when I am subjected to such a big screen torture for almost two hours , I cannot help but cry. Cry out loud,"those are the two hours of my life gone wasted".If you are still wondering what is there to complain about the movie,well, let us go the other way round by jotting down what I actually liked about the movie. To start with the name of the Dragon "Saphira". Sounds much like Shakira, but more elegant and well, sounds somewhat related to Sapphire. Whats next? Umm, the beautiful outdoor locations and spellbounding aerial shots of Hungary. It did remind of the New Zealand of LOTR.That's it.That is all I liked about the movie.

Everything else in the movie was completely ordinary to pathetic at times. The narrative-slow, the dialogues- could have been written by me in a much better way, I guess.I could have spiced up the movie by giving it a touch of Tenacious D in the script. The actors, do not get me started on that. And I do not care if it is based upon some fantasy bestseller by some Paolini. I demand an explanation for making such talents like Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Irons and Robert Carlyle all gone waste.As far as Rachel Weisz's voice is concerned , it is not very recognisable like Cate Blanchett's(LOTR, remember).

No wonder, when we entered the theatre, the torch guy said, "Sit anywhere Sir, the hall is yours". Me and my friend, chose our seats. From reel 1 to the end, my friend demanded, " Yaar!! c'mon show me a kiss at least". Because there was nothing else that could rescue our Friday evenings. He would frequently comment " Bloody , ek dhang ki bandee nahi hai movie main, itna paisa kaha kharch kiya, aur naa hi ek kiss dikhaya, at least LOTR main Liv Tyler last main ek mast wala kiss to deti hai". What can I say? Some people do have complaints that neither IMDB nor Rotten Tomatoes would register.

Rating: I wish I could give it a negative rating. But because of the Visual Hungary Tourism Brochure, I m gonna give it a 1. But it came to me for 140 bucks. Screw it. Minus 5. Wanna still watch it?

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Index of Movies

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I smiled, I laughed , I cried, I shouted and I enjoyed the bumpy ride of the rickety yellow Volkswagen, as dysfunctional as the Hoovers themselves. Little Miss Sunshine is "the Indie Movie" this year and it is no surprise that it was a front contender at the Oscars , only to lose to Scorsese's the Departed. Right from the starting titles to the end credit rolls, Little Miss Sunshine ( hereafter referred to as LMS) is such a blast and so openhearted and obsessed with winning like its characters, and it does win a lot of hearts in the way to the Redondo Beach.

As Devotchka's background score plays on,we are introduced to Olive who aspires to win the LMS pageant and practices hours in front of the TV imitating the plastic American Beauties, trained under her Heroine Sniffing, Porn Reading,grumpy old Grandpa played by Alan Arkin in his Oscar winning role. Dwayne(Paul Dano), Olive's elder step Brother aspires to become a Pilot and has taken a vow of silence and trains himself rigorously for it. Dwayne's hero is the 19th century German philospher Friedrich Nietzsche.And then there is the father of the family ,Richard, who seeks his big break as the lead spokesman of his own self help program "9 steps to success". Toni Collete plays Sheryl , the mother who is herself very much troubled handling her work, her dysfunctional family, and now her brother Frank, who almost committed suicide. Frank (Steve Carell) is the country's leading Proust Scholar and is terminally depressed over losing his lover.

The opening few minutes reveal how the characters, inspite of belonging to the same family (almost) are so very much scattered and disjointed and how everyone is just living for the sake of it- as most people would say, a true portrayal of today's American Life or as many critics might call it as the attack on the way Americans shape their lives around reaching for the brass ring;to me its a celebration of the same phenomenon. The dinner table scene is one of the many high points in the movie. Dinner here, means chicken and Sprite and for dessert everyone has ice-cream.What gets you laughing and believing in the characters is the way they eat together. When Sheryl brings home a big takeout bucket, Grandpa erupts, "What is this?! Chicken?! Every day it's the chicken! Holy God Almighty! Is it possible, just one time, we could have something for dinner except the goddamn chicken?!"

Still, they're all sitting around the table having dinner; even silent Dwayne sets the table. Though they may be drinking out of fast-food giveaway glasses, they're eyeing each other as a family. When Olive wants to know why Uncle Frank has been so unhappy, her question sets off the kind of electric ripple that floats through families and unifies them even as it shocks or tickles them. Her dad, Richard, panics, but Olive asks, "You fell in love with a boy?" Frank answers, "Very much so." And Olive responds, lightly, adorably, "That's silly." ("There's another word for it," says Grandpa.) The movie is about the power and the glory of the makeshift, from the family's floating, changing patterns of disconnects and sympathies to the menus for its breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Hoovers wouldn't reach their one defining moment of communion if they weren't strivers. In this odyssey, what's more dangerous than the whirlpools of ambition are the shallows of rigid thinking. Every step to Redondo Beach requires a leap or push - everyone needs to get out and shove the spluttering VW before it can move into high gear. Richard achieves salvation in the family's eyes when he imparts his get-ahead drive to Olive's heart's desire, even if it turns them into temporary outlaws getting a narrow escape from a libidinous cop. Frank begins to apply Proustian wisdom by helping, of all people, hard-bodied Dwayne. Without giving anything crucial away, let's just say that by the time this family reaches the Little Miss Sunshine contest, there's no question who's "normal," and it's not Olive's freakily toned little-girl competitors or the wholesome clans cheering them on.

The cast is so perfect that it's impossible to imagine anyone else in the roles. Arkin's spontaneity gives the impression that he's improvising. Kinnear embodies the hyped-up energy of a gambler sure his next card will beat the house. He and Collette effectively use body language to convey the frustrations of a couple trying to hold it together for the kids. The two have almost no physical contact. A scene where they verbally lash out at each other is particularly well acted. Even in such heady company, Carell, whose success in "The 40 Year Old Virgin" established him as more than just a television face, comes close to making this his movie. His well-honed comic instincts are evident in the way Frank intently follows the family's disjointed conversations with his eyes -- as if watching a tennis match -- and in his quickened pace to get to the pageant registration desk when the Hoovers, delayed by one crisis after another, arrive in Redondo Beach late.

Abigail Breslin , who plays Olive is a revelation--she brings an unstudied, unsaccharine sweetness with her enchanting, chubby , bespectacled smile .She is endearingly attentive and captures the infinite fascination of the genuinely innocent. It could have easily gone wrong in every possible way, but it does not. The perennially underrated Greg Kinnear is astounding as Richard. Even when you fear he'll be the creepy, controlling dad, Kinnear imparts the sadness of a family man who's also aching to be a man of the world and doesn't know how. Kinnear turns the disappointments of a self-help salesman into arias of comic pathos. When he takes command of his clan, it's by owning his own failures and seeing his own ambitions and letdowns in Olive and in Dwayne. Paul Dano as Dwayne gives the crowning performance in the improbably magical saga of the Hoovers, who in the end suck up all the humanity from a room filled mostly with Sun Belt humanoids. Dano , who even after remaining mute for the major part of the movie, speaks volumes with his silence. And when he speaks out loud , everyone listens.

There's no more fitting final destination than California, the land of promise for generations of families seeking to improve their lot. But "Little Miss Sunshine" is really more about getting there. You'll be delighted, if a bit breathless from laughing, to be along for the ride.You won't see a brighter, truer affirmation of the All-American messed-up improvisational family than Little Miss Sunshine. Dazzling Sunshine, not little in any way.

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Half Baked!

Usually, I do care about the cast of a movie when I go to watch it, and also that there are no signs of even a minute's appearance of Himmesss or his "music". Debutante director Sagar Ballary's Indian Take on the French Comedy "The Dinner Game","Bheja Fry" did not pose any high expectations and star values, but it did have my favourite actors set, Vinay Pathak and Ranvir Shorey and to top it, Tej Bhaisaab (Monsoon Wedding), I mean Rajat Kapoor. I went to look for a good Sunday Morning entertainer and entertain it did, in pure Bhaiya isshtyle.

Vinay Pathak rules in every inch of the reel he occupies and that is the movie's strength as well as the weekness.At almost 2 hours , Bheja Fry tells us the story of a Music Industry Guy ,Ranjit Thadani (Rajat Kapoor)who has a weird hobby of having dumb performers entertain them on Friday Nights. Only this time, he comes across Bharat Bhushan (Vinay Pathak), whom he mistakes to be yet another dumb guy. I am tempted to tell you the plot, but well I'll keep that for you to explore.As the name suggests, Vinay literally fries every inch of your neurons and your cranium and makes you roar you with laughter with his performance. Well, having said that, I must say, that after a while it did seem to me that the entire movie had been overloaded on Vinay Pathak's shoulders. I am not saying that he is not capable of doing that. I am just saying that it looked a bit obvious and not quite natural after a while. Unlike "Khosla Ka Ghosla" where the entire spectrum of performances were explored from Boman, to Ranvir to Anupam Kher to Vinay Pathak and even the so brief Vinod Nagpal in Mr.Sahni's role. Well ,you can say that I am perhaps nitpicking by comparing the two. In a way yes, I am , because I liked Khosla a lot, but Bheja Fry remains to me a movie which I liked or rather laughed at in bits.

Talking about the performances, though Bheja Fry has in the castlist actors like Ranvir Shorey,Milind Soman and Saarika , there is hardly any credibility in their acts. Especially Ranvir who seems like an unpaid actor to me in a role that can be said to be having proximity to the gags he performs on the Great Indian Comedy show. Saarika is wasted and well, Milind Soman can only converse and well talk on the phone.

But the man of the movie (You'll hear this almost 167 times in movie reviews)is Vinay Pathak. From his irritating unpacking of his Scrapbook to the suspicious look on his face when he puts in the number combo on his briefcase, he looks so very natural. Some really memorable moments like when Bharat Bhushan calls Anand as a Bhojpuri Film Producer by the alias of Madan Mohan for a movie " Humar Bhojai Tohar Lugai" and suggests that the movie would star Ravi Kishan jee, Nagma Jee and Rahul Roy jee , just cracked the entire audience. And so was the scene when Miss Suman Rao keeps asking the meaning of a word that Ranjeet has been using to describe her. Also not to forget, when Asif calls up his wife who's in the middle of an adulterous tryst to tell her he knows what she's upto. It's really moments like these that you'll remember even after you've left the cinema, but then you'll remember only the moments, not the movie as a whole. So all said and done, I give Bheja Fry 2.5 out of 5 . Half Baked stuff for me- delicious ,but only at some portions .

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