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.


Hi everyone. We have moved from this address to

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

Little Miss Sunshine

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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