WHAT MADE TOM CRUISE PICK THE MUMMY 2017?

This is a question asked umpteen times ever since the movie hit theatres, a movie that is not just a reboot of a commercially successful series but also the launch vehicle of Universal’s Dark Universe, an ambitious sub-series by the global entertainment giant to tap into the ever-widening profitability net of comic book super-heroes (and super-villains), supernatural characters and obviously the all-eclipsing monsters.

Well, The Mummy of the previous generation was a bad movie series. It could work commercially because humour was an important part of this storytelling that the world is quite familiar with, palaces, kings, queens, princes, princesses, paramours, conspiracies, killings, tombs, mummies and pryramids.

And the natural inevitability – that how far can you go with a tellingly thin narrative – that any mummy is basically identified with Egypt’s Pyramids and some Egyptian royalty because of the controversial history surrounding them – so, a standalone chapter, or at best two can justify their arrival if they are given some good treatment. Even The Mummy’s previous incarnation had to look for other extensions beyond Egypt to keep the franchise lubricated beyond two but then it chose to suspend the movement beyond one more.

The latest Mummy has come to life after 2008, when the last movie of the series was released. The three previous Mummies were basically horror comedies to say best or if we say conservatively, they were action-comedy flicks which didn’t need star power but the treatment that could pull the viewer to the theatre. They were time-pass flicks running high on computer generated special effects. They didn’t need acting credentials for expressions or starry adrenaline for action sequences.

They simply needed a one point linear narrative that how to keep the viewer engaged for 100 minutes by producing a cocktail of commercial cinematic specs like comedy mixed with horror, special effects, good looking canvases and known mythological monsters. They were meant to entertain somehow. They were never meant to excel.

True, it can be argued that Tom Cruise is an entertainer and excellence in filmmaking is a reserved phenomenon. But he is certainly an actor who cannot, at this stage of his career, be associated with films that are meant to entertain somehow. He is a name. He is a star power. He is among the selected few names who are used to sell films.

So, the big question is, what made Tom Cruise pick The Mummy 2017, a poor reboot that fails to create the effect of its mediocre but commercially successful predecessors, especially when the film has failed to create box office magic? Reports say the film generated only $400 million against its overall budget of $250 million. And critical reception, well its flooded with all kinds of negative witticisms – plain, convoluted, satirical, humorous and even comical.

©SantoshChaubey

MADAARI POWERFULLY CONVEYS WHAT IT WANTS TO CONVEY

Madaari is a powerful film because of the message it conveys – an element that effectively counters flaws that we may discuss in the art of filmmaking here.

And it does so sensitively, touching cords. The film is not just a sensitive portrayal of a father-son relation but is also an apt expression of a common man who is crushed by the system. It is a vengeance story with no personal vendetta. It is as variegated in portrayal as the human thought can be, especially of a man who has lost his everything including the will to live and who wants to avenge his loss at any cost but who, at the same time, is bound by the larger cause of ‘what is right and what ails’ the system.

A vigilante thought process underpins the character developments in the movie – a thought element that we all have in our lifetimes. It is its leitmotif.

The main protagonist in the film loses his son in a flyover collapse which is caused by irregularities and corruption in its construction. The film explains well the internal struggle of a man who fails to accept this loss and chooses to concentrate his anger on the corrupt system that is plaguing the society – that caused the collapse.

A vigilante film is basically about uncommon heroics of someone from among us. The good thing about Madaari is, that though it’s basic premise is far-fetched, it tries to look real – like the reflection of peace and innocent happiness that the main protagonist’s character displays when he finally succeeds in telling to the masses that he has kidnapped the home minister’s son and why he has done so – something that the whole machinery is trying to keep under wraps.

And the film does it with élan. Character development is a high point of this film – every character that is a stakeholder here contributes with heart – the main protagonist, his son, his wife, the captive who also happens to be the son of the home minister, the home minister and his wife, the cop, the corrupt politician and so on.

A home minister who leaves his son in a minimum security school hostel to seek political mileage, a dejected father who abducts that son and roams across many states throughout the movie, a cop who decides not to kill him after knowing his real story and indirectly helps him, a cop who aspires to get the plum posting of some state governor after retirement – unbelievable, unreasonable premises – but then isn’t it not about the most vigilante movies – and, in fact, with all the superhero movies?

Yet we love them – be it ‘The Equalizer’ or the Batman movies of the Superman movies or the Iron Man movies or our very own ‘Krrish’.

It is because of the human psychology – where we all, more or less, at some point of time or regularly – face its brunt – and the main protagonist of the movie is shown taking on such (rogue) VIP elements.

It is because such films give wings to our fantasy that craves (and at times cribs) because of the fundamentally feeble nature of human beings who have been harassed by a corrupt system – something that we all face – and find ourselves forced to compromise.

Madaari portrays that.

MadaariFacebook

©SantoshChaubey

Featured Image Courtesy: Madaari’s Official Facebook page

LON’E’DON HAS FALLEN!

I had the fine luck of watching ‘London Has Fallen’ last night – and after watching the movie (it doesn’t matter if it was in random shots), I could not stop myself from writing about it.

Okay, I decided I would not go too deep as it will reduce gravity of my words. I decided to keep it direct – but with a bit of haziness. After all, we all exist in greys – with only occasional interactions with extremities.

The obvious first step or the first brush on penning some words about the movie was going for that little birdie on Twitter. And here a shocking revelation was waiting for me. When I tried my tweet with the hashtag #LondonHasFallen, I found that I was the first person using that hashtag.

Now, it was the first natural hashtag that people should have gone with while writing about the movie. Why they haven’t sounds a bit strange. Anyway, I ‘created’ the #LondonHasFallen hashtag (and felt good on creating something) and went ahead with my tweet.

Now, it is the time for my reflections on the movie:

Well, first of all, the movie is of epic proportions – the kind of destruction, and that too of London, and that too not by supernatural heroes, but by terrorists, is unprecedented.

No other producer or director can think to show London fallen to this extent. No actor can expect that the creative freedom to show destruction can be taken to this extent.

No producer, director or actor can be so unbelievably bold in killing most of important world leaders in one go – an act that #LondonHasFallen does so efficiently.

And where the mastery lies – in the manner all world leaders have shown to be executed – quickly, swiftly (and unbelievably).

The conspiracy has been shown so adept and meticulous that you can see a French President is shown taking waterways to reach London (without the routine entourage and security) or an Italian power couple giggles and ogles from a building and so on.

The meticulousness goes to the next level as the film shows the main protagonist and the side protagonist (here the US President) on the run and terrorists find men and eyes in every part of London virtually hijacking the city – where all layers of defence – aerial or ground forces or from Thames are shown completely fallen – with no trace of their activity.

And when so much of filmmaking talent is oozing here, brimming over, in fact, is spilling over, who cares about CGI or special effects or acting. The epic level of disaster on display takes care of everything. The movie leaves no time to think about storyline, character development or points of logics/ill-logics/bad logics/silly logics/funny logics.

Certainly, the movie that has earned thrice of its budget will remain a ‘lone’ achiever for the years to come. After all, it is rare to see so much of talent – in acting, directing and cinema-making – coming together on a single platform.

Thanks folks for giving us this filmmaking gem – a class act – like a ‘lone wolf’ – a study in point – that will be read again and again.

The film should rightly be spelt as ‘Lon’e’don’ Has Fallen in its respect.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE REVENANT AND THE HATEFUL EIGHT – SEASON OF WHITE WESTERNS

These are two movies, two auteur movies that any moviegoer who loves watching films for the art of cinemamaking would love to watch – again and again – because there is much more to read in between the lines – in frames – in props – in body languages and silence(s) of characters – and in locales – in fact, it is always a pleasure when a film offers elements on platter so much of semiotics.

Locales – the most important part of Westerns after ‘body language and silence’ of characters – are in abundance here – with an abundance of symbolisms – here in these two movies.

These are no doubt White Westerns – dominated in every aspect by snow-clad mountains – their environs – their dialogues – the conversation they hold – the push that they give to the characters.

Classical Westerns are about simple but difficult men in difficult, barren, arid terrains of stone-clad mountains and sand spreads.

These White Westerns, the latest run of which began with Django Unchained, we can say – are stories of difficult men in more difficult terrains – snow, ice and the expanse which primarily steers the plot.

And coupled with brilliant performances, which are equally brilliantly directed, the locales in these two movies give us timeless masterpieces of the world cinema.

We can say had it not been the premise of these two movies – the lyrical flow of death in the ravines of life in the most uninhabitable and inhospitable parts of the world – we would not have such influential films – the visual language of which transcend the boundaries of filmmaking, especially in The Revenant.

TR-THE

Featured Image Courtesy: Movie posters from Wikipedia pages on The Revenant and The Hateful Eight

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

GHAYAL ONCE AGAIN AND PYAAR KA PUNCHNAMA 2: DIDN’T GET ‘GHAYAL’; NO ‘PUNCH’

Yesterday happened to be a day when I randomly caught some motion in action – from two Hindi movies – recent releases and products of the commercial cinema from the Mumbai film industry.

And since most of the output coming from Mumbai is simply rubbish, it mattered to me when I invested my time on them.

There was a historical and observational connect.

Historical because I like three movies of Sunny Deol to the point that I can watch them again – and in a serious composure – Arjun, Ghayal and Ghatak.

Observational because I had left the other movie watching midway after someone, somehow, had taken me to the theatre playing the movie ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnama’.

The movies in point yesterday were ‘Ghayal Once Again’ and ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2’.

There was natural inclination to catch ‘Ghayal Once Again’ as ‘Ghayal’ was really a good cinematic production incorporating ingredients of a revenge drama in an optimum blend of socio-politico-cultural milieu of India of the time, and not just its metro India. And above all, the movie was loaded with a balanced dose of emotional exploits.

There was this urge to see if Sunny Deol could redo his that feet in this movie – or had built more on it – or had just somehow managed it – or had messed up with the brand equity of a good movie franchise.

And after watching the movie, even if in bits – my first and last reaction is – it is not at all ‘Ghayal’ once again.

Though it is much better than the crap being dished out by the Mumbai film industry and even by Sunny Deol, we can say Sunny Deol has just somehow managed with it.

And that is a big letdown.

The movie looked more like a polished version of new age social media lingo and technology and a botched up PR attempt of its main climactic location and the underlying theme behind the movie. The premise that the movie is based on is a ‘very real’ possibility in our society but it has been ‘very poorly’ handled here. The characters, the characterization, and the elements associated with them don’t impress. Sunny Deol doesn’t impress. The emotional mix here sounds more like a diatribe or misplaced element. The rage expressed by the characters is simply outrageous – their pragmatism impractical. And the movie does a ‘very very poor’ job in getting inspired from Jason Bourne’s iconic trilogy and its cyber-snooping warfare.

And Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 – well, I was not able to complete watching the movie even the last time – even if I had a free ticket – and associated goodies. But the movie achieved some cult status afterwards – as it is reported. And that now it has come with a part 2 tells it also did some good business back then and sent out feelers that there was a market for such products.

Sometime later, at some point in my past, I came across its ‘monologue-esque scene’ – a long duration frame with one of its characters speaking his mind out finally on ‘a girl in a boy-girl’ relationship – emptying his heart out – ejaculating all the frustration, irritation and anger of years. Though I don’t have much experience in all this boy-girl affairs, of spending time together and staying together, I do have some observational learning experiences and I loved the flow in that particular scene. A sort of punch was here in this scene.

And that scene was the reason that I went to watch the movie yesterday – the qualifier being restricting my engagement to some selected scenes.

And the movie, in fact, was even more boring this time – with no innovation – similar plotline – and in fact even similar circumstances around characters. It was like an old script being enacted by different characters. Okay, the premise is evergreen – social media age love story – and many would find its ‘betrayal theme’ pulling – but the narrative here is really poorly developed. And above all, the long duration monologue-esque dialogue looks jumbled this time. The flow last time looked natural. This time it looked so flawed, so made up. In fact, the whole movie seems like a gibberish that you don’t care to attend to. Simply, no punch here!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE REVENANT: FIRST THOUGHTS THAT COME TO YOUR MIND

Obviously I am writing it in my context – but I am sure many would concur..

‘The Revenant’ is very lonely and sucks its viewers in its spaces – in its oblivions – in its living quarters – in its horizons.

‘The Revenant’ is probably the next most perfect narrative development of a book after ‘The Lord of The Rings’ trilogy.

‘The Revenant’s landscapes are, its cinematography is – I would say gripping – keeping you hooked to the whole frame and not just to the central characters – and this excellence has a beautiful rhythm frame after frame. You not only listen to the characters here but you also try to sense what the spaces around them are trying to say.

‘The Revenant’ is one of those rare movies where the film locales are as important as the script, the acting and the direction.

‘The Revenant’, a straight revenge plot, is taken to higher realms of filmcraft with powerful performance by every character in the movie, especially by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy.

‘The Revenant’, inspired by true events (as it goes), is an incredible life story of a man – played immaculately well by DiCaprio. He simply looks natural.

‘The Revenant’ is pure auteur – those who have watched other movies of its director Alejandro González Iñárritu – can easily read his style-statement in every scene.

‘The Revenant’ is a director’s movie – its actors are director’s actors – and its narrative is a director’s narrative.

‘The Revenant’ is one of the rare Westerns that try to deal sensitively with the history of Native American tribes – even if the scope is very limited here.

‘The Revenant’ should bag multiples Oscars this year – including the ones for the ‘Best Director’, the ‘Best Actor’ and the ‘Best Picture’.

The Revenant

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

Featured Image Courtesy: Screenshot from The Revenant’s Official Website

LINCOLN IS..AS GOOD CINEMA IS..

Good cinema is refreshing.

And at times, it proves levitating as well.

Like most people, I also love films – but I am quite selective about what I watch and how I watch.

Films are a brilliant tool to learn from, to think over and to create a lasting memory worth revisiting – the meaningful cinema is all about that.

Films are also the most potent tool for soft communication (or for soft power projection) when the need is to reach masses not restricted by boundaries.

Films created with a ‘craft conscience’ are case studies in themselves to study the art and craft of cinemamaking, to analyse the subject they are based on and to look into the values of the society they are set into.

Such thoughts come to mind whenever I watch some good, meaningful film. And all these thoughts were there again when I was watching ‘Lincoln’ again this evening – a world cinema classic, a production with honourable values in the annals of cinemamaking.

The 2012 film about Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US President, by Steven Spielberg focuses on the final months of Lincoln’s life. It is a moving document to study – for those who are well-informed, for those who are just familiar and for those as well who are not at all aware of. The movie is an important modern day source of one of the most important emancipatory moves made by humans to empower fellow human beings in a democratic society. In fact, the concept of a free society with constitutional equality for all began with this history-making decision executed by Abraham Lincoln in 1865 – making discrimination based on skin colour constitutionally illegal in the United States of America.

Yes, there have been and there are debates and critiques about the cinematic representation of the historical developments in the film but a good piece of ‘meaningful’ cinema liberates you to enjoy the show and inspires you to know further – like, I believe, many would have tried after watching the movie.

The art, the craft, the soul, the flesh – all ingredients of great cinemamaking are here in blossoming health I can say – with acting, with direction, with writing, with lights and camera, with score, with sets, with costumes, with props and so on – and historically, the movie is accurate enough to make viewers sit and experience the age defining development in the modern history of human civilization in making in a thrilling, riveting fashion.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION AND JEAN-PAUL SARTRE’S EXISTENTIALISM

‘Is ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ best cinema tribute to Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism?’

Well, I had not thought so sweepingly on this line even if I had already watched the movie multiple times, until the last night when I was reading about it.

The Wikipedia page on the movie had this ‘sweeping’ statement:

“The film has been critically acclaimed for depicting Jean-Paul Sartre’s ideas about existentialism more fully than any other contemporary movie.”

When I further dug in to find its originating source, I stumbled upon a web page of ‘Philosophy Now’ magazine with an article by some Alexander Hooke on the movie – but available only to subscribers beyond its initial few lines.

These lines are:

“Hope helps keep us alive and anticipating the next sunrise with joy rather than gloom. It enlivens projects and maintains focus. Hope is sustained by the confidence we have in our knowledge of the situation, although the possibility of being deceived, by others or ourselves, can undermine this confidence. Still, hope promises a time or place where things will be better, even if it seems we’re stuck in perpetual hell. Accounts through the millennia depict hell as a realm full of fascinating and ghastly demons, endless tortures, with Satan ruling with a fiery fist, and where hope is impossible.”

Yes, the movie is all about that – in fact a subtle depiction of – in most real and practical ways possible.

And I believe when it so rightly writes about ‘hope and hopes’ – even if we are well aware of limitations, the write-up will certainly have its own logics to discuss about ‘Existentialism’ in the movie, especially Sartre’s Existentialism.

Now, there are three characters central to the movie:

The one which presents before us a characterization epitomizing hope – believing in his existence and persevering to see it materialise, even if it means decades of focused job on something, to steal the day finally for him.

The next one is a sort of crusader of hope with faded charm, helping his friend in difficult times and giving him the means to sustain his ‘hope’ and at the same time, is resigned to his fate, is not sure of his identity.

The last one is like the first one, but in an audacious way, pinning his ‘hope’ on others’ shoulders – thinking of an existence for him and going all out to usurp it.

How do they play out their ‘existences’ and their ‘hopes’ in the movie? Let’s ‘watch’ the movie again.

Let’s see.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THIS TRAILER IS SO FUNNY THAT I WATCHED IT TO LAUGH IT OFF..

MSG

This image is all about what MSG-2’s trailer means to me.

Normally, I don’t write about movies. Yes, I love watching them – but those that suit my taste. So, Citizen Kane is my favourite. Padosan is my favourite. Schindler’s List is an all time in. And I appreciate the art of filmmaking that has gone into making of ‘Haider’.

I do write about such movies. My personal collection goes with detailed analysis of them. Films are the best communication tool ever crafted and I respect the movies that respect filmmaking as an ‘art’ process.

And movies like MSG are certainly not there. In fact, it is such a product that it should not even register.

And that is exactly the reason why its trailer registered.

Its trailer told me how rubbish would be the movie and that how fool we are to worship such people as Gods or as our religious gurus next only to the God.

Yes, with most of the movies being produced here and there, one doesn’t need to watch trailers to make any opinion. Name of cast and crew and are enough to tell about the product (save those small time, obscure movies like ‘Court’ that are big on content and on everything creative).

But, then there is a silver lining – in some empty moments – when you want to watch something funny – not to recharge yourself – but just to continue in the flow of the moment – and that moment happened today.

I was sifting through television channels to catch something funny – some hilarious action stuff from C-grade movies that I do sometimes – when I found myself staring at and then watching this trailer in amusement. And that reflection soon turned into ‘sheer’ amusement.

The image above explains what the trailer is.

And the image is about nothing. I simply, randomly drew lines on my computer screen with a while background. I was dragging mouse on and on until I felt it was black enough to draw lines anymore.

The trailer is like those lines, the countless ones in the image, with no meaning and purpose. Yes, as a mind can stare even at a blank spot and think for hours, and no doubt, can draw conclusions or pointers to think further, similar process can apply even to this trailer.

But then this trailer is so bland, so bad in taste creatively (and therefore so funny) that you laugh it off – like I found myself stuck at it today – to laugh its blandness off – like I do with some C-grade action flicks whenever I catch them.

The trailer’s (or the movie’s) central protagonist is a controversial godman who continues to wield power.

And this C-grade trailer had all the D-grade elements like silly special effects, a flying, omnipresent and omnipotent but odd-shaped and oddly clad hero, funny and funnily shot miracles, badly written dialogues, grandiosely exaggerated frame settings showing everyone else a minion compared to the hero, bawdily stacked shots and gaudy song and dance sequences – a perfect curry to enjoy moments of some absent-minded laugh.

And like drawing this image, that took my time (as its resource), big money (as resource) would have been invested into making this trailer (or the movie).

But while I care for my time, trying to write something around this image to see my resources talking to me, the ones who have invested in this sort of production, they never care for their resources (or they never care wasting their resources).

And it is natural (and understandable) that I am not going to use the movie’s poster as the featured image of the article.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

SOME ‘JOLLY’ WATCHING..

I love watching this movie, especially when I try to sense a ‘good’ and ‘humoured’ satire in Hindi cinema.

Yes, the movie is not a masterpiece but has been lifted to a ‘master sort’ of level by brilliant performance of its actors, especially the character delivered to us by Saurabh Shukla – the eternal lower court judge – in his full flair – in his characterization’s full tenacity.

The subject line is not so innovative but is popular enough to ‘be sensitive to masses’ – a drunk scion of a rich business family kills some people under his vehicle’s wheels – and his ‘superrich’ family tries to manipulate and subvert the legal system to get him out.

We have seen it so many times in real life.

So, there is nothing new about it in the movie.

But, then, moviemaking is as much about the subject matter as it is about the treatment of the narrative.

A good narrative treatment can lift even an ordinary plot to the levels of a ‘watchable feast’.

Here, a ‘common but sensitive to masses’ subject has been treated well by the director. In spite of routine song and dance sequences, transition from one frame to the next looks logical. The dialogues are punchy and ‘poignant’ at places – especially in the climax of the movie – the final scene that gives us all a ‘jolly’ feeling.

‘Jolly LLB’ is a treat to watch – because of some powerful acting by its central protagonists – the three legal eagles – the brilliant lower court Justice and the good and the bad lawyers – and they are supported well by some supportive characters.

Anyone who has experienced how the Indian courts function, especially the lower courts, can correlate with the frame by frame development of the movie.

The judge, who ultimately proves that he is incorruptible and whatever he had said was basically part of the routine/social human behaviour, acts so naturally that one can identify him with what happens in natural settings.

The good lawyer is also a human being, like you and me, and finally evolves as a normal human being who is in a dogged pursuit to undo some wrong. Again, this is very human. Circumstances make, break and shape a man (or woman).

The bad lawyer is perennially bad and ‘haughty’. He is cunning enough to see his profit in every move and goes to any extent to achieve his purpose. He does everything illegal to fulfil his objectives in his ‘legal profession’. We can so easily identify him with real people in the said profession.

The high point of the film, in spite of its illogical but light-hearted humorous insertions, is that we act hooked to its scenes, especially the ones in the courtrooms and we spontaneously move from one frame to the next.

The film scores because most of its scenes are worth watching multiple times and we feel the need for its ‘sequel’ after the show is over.

And it was one of those ‘jolly’ times last night again while watching the movie (again) – with freedom of controlling the movement of its frames.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/